Thinley Namgay  

The National Assembly (NA) yesterday decided to increase the budget for the maintenance of the gewog centre (GC) roads.

The motion was moved by the Kengkhar-Weringla MP Rinzin Jamtsho. He said dzongkhags should either hand over the management of the GC roads back to the Department of Roads (DoR) or the government could provide sufficient budget to Local Governments.

So far, the government has provided Nu 30,000 to maintain a km of GC road which many MPs agreed was insufficient.

Previously, the DoR was responsible for construction of GC roads from either the national highway or the dzongkhag highway to the GCs. However, the government handed the work to gewogs.

Today there are 21,000km of roads in the country consisting of Primary National Highway, Secondary National Highway, GC Road, and Farm Road.

Rinzin Jamtsho said that except for places like Soe, Naro, and Lingzhi, about 90 percent of road coverage was achieved, including Laya, Geteyna, Merak, Sakteng, Shingkhar-Lauri, Sangbeykha, and Gakiling.

Rinzin Jamtsho said that after handing over the work to the dzongkhags and gewogs,  many issues emerged due to the inability of the dzongkhag to provide services to all the gewogs and the lack of capacity in the gewogs.

He said timely maintenance was not carried out on some  roads that were blacktopped.

The government is working on 28 GC roads.

Rinzin Jamtsho said that management of the GC roads by the DoR would be good owing to their ability to ensure proper structure planning and design, making estimates and procurement and formulating management framework and guidelines.

He said that under DoR, regular maintenance works were carried out.  “National wage workers were employed to ensure that the work was carried out.”

Dewathang-Gomdar MP Ugyen Dorji said that roads are the primary infrastructure to improve the livelihood of the people and handing over the works to the DoR would be more practical.

He said that during the monsoon, many roads get damaged and the dzongkhag and gewogs were not in the position to carry the work owing to less budget.

Bartsham-Shongphu MP Dr Passang Dorji said that the government should look into budget allocation for GC road maintenance.  He said that some gewogs don’t require the same budget as others.

Bardo-Trong MP Gyambo Tshering said that DoR has enough human resources and technical expertise to maintain roads.

However, Athang-Thedtsho MP Kinley Wangchuk said that taking control of GC roads by the DoR would affect the opportunity for the thousands of contractors.