Kelzang Wangchuk

The 13-km Martshala gewog connectivity (GC) road in Samdrupjongkhar is in poor condition and is in dire need of maintenance, commuters said.

The GC road that connects the gewog administration with the Samdrupchoeling drungkhag administration was blacktopped in 2016. Since then, it has not been maintained.

A villager from Martshala said that the GC road was important for villagers because it is the only conduit for their farm produce to the market. “Transportation charges increase when the condition of the road is bad.”

A driver, Kinley, said that the potholes in every few metres of the stretch were making it difficult for small vehicles to ply the road.

“Who is going to repair the road? The gewog, drungkhag or the dzongkhag?” he asked.

Another driver, Tashi, 36, said that it took an hour to reach the drungkhag administration due to the bad road condition. “There is no sign of blacktopping or even maintaining the road. We need to repair our vehicles frequently.”

Martshala Gup, Yenten Dorji, said the GC road needs maintenance but the gewog administration could not even carry out minor repairs like filling up the potholes because of the limited budget.

He said the gewog had approved Nu 1.5 million and would soon fix the potholes while the gewog would not be able to blacktop the whole stretch since about 30 percent of the gewog budget has been slashed.

The gup said that since they have other developmental activities to be executed in the gewog, they cannot focus on the road alone and they also do not have experts on the road. The issue was also discussed in the recent dzongkhag tshogdu.

The gup said that it would have been better if the roads were kept under the Department of Roads (DoR) as they have road experts and could maintain it whenever required. “We also do not have a separate budget for the road.”

Yenten Dorji said allocating more budget on the road could affect other essential developmental activities in the gewog. “The roads should have been handed over to gewogs with the budget and technical experts.”