The govt. has 2.5 years to meet its target of blacktopping 110 more gewog centre roads 

Connectivity: Only four gewog centre roads have been blacktopped so far despite the government targeting to blacktop roads to 201 gewogs by the end of 11th Plan.

Bitumen works will be carried out only in 201 of 205 gewogs in the 11th Plan according to Department of Roads (DoR). Four gewogs – Lunana in Gasa, Lingzhi and Soe in Thimphu and Geling in Chukha still have no road connectivity. These gewogs will remain without roads even by the end of the 11th Plan.

A senior DoR official, who did not wish to be named, said 87 of the 201 gewogs however would not require blacktopping, as all are located along the national highways. Only 114 gewog centre roads would require bitumen.

Blacktopping of all the 114 gewog centre roads in less than 30 months however looks like an uphill task for the government which completes it term in 2018.

Going by the current progress, only four of the 114 gewog centre roads have been blacktopped in the last two and a half years. Currently only 3.5 percent of the total bitumen works have been completed. Over 96.5 percent of the works remains to be completed.

The four gewog centre roads – Drujaygang-Tsangkha in Dagana, Lhuentse-Khoma, Khuru-Shengana in Punakha under the small development projects (SDP) I and the five-kilometre Paro-Tsendona under SDP II have been completed.

Only 40km of the total target of 1,923.92km for 114 gewogs are completed so far. The government has 1,883.94km of gewog centre roads to complete in the next 30 months.

Only Nu 116 million (M) of the total estimated budget of Nu 3.62 billion (B) has been used so far.

However DoR officials said that bitumen works for at least 52 gewog centre roads are underway. Budget for 39 more has been secured recently under SDP III. DoR has proposed budgetary assistance from SDP for one more road in its phase IV.

“Blacktopping of 10 to 11 gewog centre roads would be completing in June,” a DoR official said.

Blacktopping of 52 gewog centre roads is ongoing. Eight of them such as Tshangchuthama-Martshala, Riju-Bartsham and Gomkora-Tongmizhangsa are being executed under SDP I with a budget of Nu 298.7M.

Bitumen works worth Nu 885.9M for another 28 gewog centre roads like Yadi-Chaskar, Duwang-Pretengma in Khar, Tendruk-Norgaygang and Radhi-Phongmey among many others are being carried out under SDP II. Sixteen gewog centre roads including Tang in Bumthang, Bongo in Chukha, Kengkhar in Mongar, Serthi in Samdrupjongkhar, Nangkor in Zhemgang are being carried out under project tied assistance (PTA) for Nu 1.4B.

Bitumen works for 39 more gewog centre roads will also start soon under phase III. “The tendering works for the gewog centre roads in SDP III was just completed recently,” the senior official from DoR said, adding that the works for these 39 gewog centre roads will begin after the monsoon.

“Hopefully, we will be able to complete it by the end of June 2018.”

Bitumen works for another gewog centre road worth Nu 50M has also been proposed under SDP IV. When works for 39 roads under SDP III and one more in its fourth phase start, blacktopping of only 92 gewogs would be underway. But 22 gewog centres would still be left out since they neither qualify for SDP as each will cost over Nu 50M while PTA has no more money to support such big projects.

No budget has been mobilised for the remaining 22 gewog centre roads. “Efforts however are being made to seek funding from other international donors,” the senior official said.

Tempa Wangdi