North East-West highway should be a model road: PM

The PM would personally scrutinise the quality of the road’s construction
Construction: The quality of works of all 23 contractors who are involved in the Nu 8B North East-West highway widening works will be strictly monitored to ensure that the highway is a model road.
Should need arise, the Prime Minister would personally inspect the works carried out by the contractors.
While meeting the contractors yesterday, Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said that he carries with him a core cutting testing equipment while travelling and that whenever he stops, he drills the road to inspect the standards. He would do more so once the contractors of the East-West highway handover the work as a supplementary examination.
“As a contractor you know the best but I have also studied engineering,” he said.
However, Lyonchoen gave the contractors a choice to avoid vigorous inspection by increasing the defect liability period from a year to three years.
The defect liability period is the time within which the contractor is contractually obliged to return to the construction site to repair defects, which have appeared in the contractor’s works.
Lyonchoen also announced that the Nu 56,000 a kilometer a year that the government sets aside for maintenance works such as white washing, bush clearance and drainage would also be directly allocated to the respective contractors as an incentive.
However, contractors said that Nu 56,000 was not a viable option.  Lyonchoen informed the relevant authorities to discuss on the amount.
“But if you stick to a year defect liability period, I am certain to conduct inspection like a mad man,” he said. “I cannot afford to take risk in that highway.”
The contractors are also required to submit a quarterly plan in advance to the department of roads. Should contractors fail to deliver as per the plan for three times, Lyonchoen said that the contract would be terminated besides the fines and penalties.
The government, Lyonchoen said would also debar the particular contractor from getting any works in future. If this isn’t done, he said there is no difference between those contractors who are working hard and those who aren’t.
He said that there were instances in the past where contract licenses were cancelled and the same firms availed licenses in their relatives’ name. “Ours is a small country and we will scrutinise every license holder,” he said.
However, if contractors are able to deliver quality work on time, Lyonchoen said a special certificate would be awarded to the respective firms with opportunity to explore more government contracts.
As per the plan, the formation cutting of the roads is expected to wind up by the end of the year and Lyonchoen urged all contractors to complete their works by 2017.
To achieve this target, all works have been divided into 45 packages, of which 34 accounting for 228kms of road have been allocated to local class A contractors. The department of roads would do the formation cutting of nine packages and two others are in tendering process.
This accounts for Nu 2.6B worth of works for 23 contractors, each getting around Nu 116M worth of works on an average.
On an average, each contractor has got 6.7kms of road and this is the logic the Prime Minister used to convince the contractors that works ought to be completed as scheduled.
The contractors will also be given 15 percent more on the bidding price as compensation for purchasing electricity and lighting equipment because major works would be carried out between 7pm to 8am.
Lyonchoen ensured that all funds would be released on time and that every matter would be dealt as per the contract agreement.
The highway is supposed to last five to 10 years with almost two feet of granular sub base and wet mix. The black top is expected to be about 125mm thick.
The Doebum lam’s blacktop (swimming pool road), Lyonchoen said was about 100mm thick. “This was constructed in 2007 and so far there were no potholes at all despite the huge traffic,” he said indicating that the highway should last even longer.
Meanwhile, in the 11th Plan, of the Nu 92B capital expenditure, Nu 41.6B is allocated for infrastructure works like construction of bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, dzongs and lhakhangs, involving class A contractors.
There are 148 class A contractors of the 3,894 registered contractors.
By Tshering Dorji

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