All work expected to complete by 2017 end

Road: Should everything go well, the North-East-West highway widening works, which is expected to become a model road, will be completed before its deadline, end of 2017.

The progress has been good so far with 209kms of road widening completed as of December 2015. Widening and pavement works began end of 2014.

A total of 385km of the road from Trashigang until Dochula will be widened and paved. Of that 52km stretch between Trashigang and Yadi is being carried out by project DANTAK. According to progress report submitted to DoR, project DANTAK has completed widening nine kilometre since June last year.

The remaining 333kms have been divided into 49 packages, of which DoR itself is carrying out works in eight of the packages and the rest will be tendered to contractors. In seven of the eight packages, DoR will only widen and the pavement part will be tendered out.

Department of Road’s Specialist, MN Lamichaney who is also the government of India (GoI) project coordinator, said of the 41 contract packages 32 have already been awarded and work are in progress.

Currently the department is carrying out tender evaluation for another four contract packages. Tenders for pavement works are expected to float soon for the remaining five packages, MN Lamichaney said.

But before beginning works of the last five packages between Yadi and Trongsa, DoR’s eight packages between Semtokha and Dochula, Wangdue and Chuserbu, Trongsa and Nangar and Lingmethang and Yadi have to be completed.

“By June this year, we’ve to complete eight departmental packages and begin tendering the last five packages so that all works are completed within deadline,” the project coordinator said adding that tendering process takes around three months.

The work is expected to progress in the same pace if there is no hindrance in sanctioning budget. So far, as of November 2014, only Nu 406 million (M) has been sanctioned. DoR has been awaiting a fund release of Nu 806M for more than a year now.

During the Plan talks in 2014, GoI committed Nu 4.63 billion (B) under Project Tied Assistance. An estimate of Nu 7.28B for the entire 385km stretch was worked out by the department.

However the project is being carried out currently with pre-financing from the Ministry of Finance in ‘bits and pieces’. So far finance ministry has invested Nu 561M in the project.

“If we get the money on time, it will help expedite the project,” he said. “Getting pre-financing is not easy.”

Meanwhile, sources said that the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement and Ministry of Finance would soon meet to discuss the further pre-financing of the project. Finance ministry is trying to avail loan from financial institutions to pre-finance the project, it was learnt.

In the meeting, immediate financial requirement and requirement until June 2016, which is estimated about 2B will be discussed. It was also learned that the finance ministry might float treasury bills to pre finance the North-East highway widening project.

Nirmala Pokhrel