Construction: The people of Nganglam are now blaming the Department of Roads (DoR). They say that DoR has made road condition only worse.

The residents are troubled by the condition of road from Nganglam check post to Dungsam Cement plant in Chengkari. “It is worse than a farm road,” said one resident.

Huge potholes have developed along the entire road. In the middle of the town, there is a stretch that looks as if the road could come off anytime.

This road that passes from the Nganglam and Phatung was constructed in 2011 and was handed over to DoR in 2012. The road joins with Nganglam-Gyalpozhing highway after crossing Chengkari. 

Many said that driving on this road has become difficult, especially at night when they cannot see potholes. Heavy flow of trucks and tippers carrying cement do additional damage.

Residents said that the potholes could have been filled and road would have improved had DoR sorted things with the contractor who had some issues with bitumen and quality of aggregate.

“We hear that the contract was suspended and the blacktop work has been stopped. But the contractor has already dug patches of holes in the entire road to fill with bitumen,” said Tshering Samdrup a resident of Nganglam town. “But now these holes are left open, which is damaged by vehicles and rainwater.”

Another resident, Karma Wangdi, said that problems could have been avoided had DoR officials checked the quality when they took over from the contractor.

Chief Engineer Lungten Jamtsho at the regional office in Limithang, said that DoR had to terminate the contract following a mutual understanding based on quality aspect. Aggregate that the contractor used to mix with cold bitumen emulsion was not compatible enough.

“When the contractor used bitumen emulsion to mix with the aggregate, instead of getting set inside the potholes, it kept coming out,” he said. “When we checked the quality, both aggregate and bitumen contained positive pH balance, which repelled the reaction.”

He also added that DoR took the same bitumen to Trongsa and mixed with the aggregate available in Trongsa and found both the materials were compatible, indicating that the bitumen did not have quality problem.

Lungten Jamtsho said that the road couldn’t take the pressure of increasing traffic. “We planned to blacktop the entire road and proposed for Nu 50 million budget, but only five million was approved. That’s why we decided to only repair the potholes. Even that didn’t go as we planned.”

But, there is good news for the people. DoR will now soon get Nu 25 million to work on the road.

“We could award the work by August. We will go for hot bitumen emulsion this time, which is available only in India and use the aggregate from Nganglam.”

Yangchen C Rinzin, Nganglam