Kelzang Wangchuk | Nganglam

Five years after the construction of the Nganglam-Panbang highway, the condition of 55km road has become worse than the farm roads, according to commuters.

Commuters said it takes more than three hours to reach Panbang drungkhag from Nganglam, as the road is riddled with potholes.

A driver, Tashi, said it would actually take an hour and half if the road condition is good. “The road condition is deteriorating every year and authorities never bothered to repair the damages.”

He has been using the road to ferry construction materials for many years.

He said there are potholes in every metre of the road, making it even difficult for heavy vehicles to ply. “It is also very risky to ply along the highway in monsoon.”

A commuter, Thinley, 43, said it is more challenging for light vehicles to ply along the road, as it gets damaged. “But we have to travel for urgent official work.”

He claimed that although the Department of Roads (DoR) was carrying out blacktopping work, but it stopped. “It is high time for concerned agencies to carry out maintenance and improve the road condition.”

DoR’s executive engineer in Nganglam, Sonam Wangchuk, said the road was constructed in 2012 under the Assian Development Bank project and handed over to the DoR in 2016.

He said that of the 55km, DoR office in Panbang looks after 15km of stretch and their office in Nganglam looks after the remaining 40km.

According to the engineer, DoR awarded the first package of maintenance and blacktopping works for 9.5km in the 2020-21 fiscal year. “But work had to stop because of the monsoon, as it affects the quality of the work.” The government funded Nu 48 million for the first package.

Sonam Wangchuk said they proposed a budget for the second package and are waiting for response to maintain and blacktop another 30km in this fiscal year.

He said they increased the thickness of blacktopping to 100mm from the 25mm, as trucks ferrying the construction materials along the road have increased over the years. “When the thickness is 25mm, it does not last much.”

Edited by Tashi Dema