Chhimi Dema  

Responsibility of maintaining gewog centre (GC) roads will revert back to the roads department after it was devolved to the local governments more than two years ago.

This was what was recommended by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during the joint sitting of the Parliament yesterday. The responsibility was given to LGs with a reduced maintenance budget from Nu 45,000 to Nu 30,000 per kilometre.

The Review Report of Performance Audit Report on Farm Road Development and Management stated that the local government does not have adequate skilled human resource, machinery and equipment to carry out timely maintenance, resulting in poor condition of GC, chiwog and farm roads.

The review report was based on the Royal Audit Authority’s review of systems, structures and processes of farm road development and management covering 13 dzongkhags and 121 gewogs from 2010-2011 to 2020-2021.

National Council’s Paro MP Ugyen Tshering, also the chair of the PAC, said that the performance audit on farm road development and management in Bhutan was conducted with an overall objective to assess the efficiency and effectiveness in the development and management of farm roads.

The committee recommended DoR as per the Road Act of Bhutan 2013 to review strategic master plan, institutional arrangement, road classification system including GC, chiwog and farm road development, inventory management, maintenance and oversight role in ensuring quality management system of the farm roads in the country.

Haa NC Ugyen Namgay, supporting the committee’s recommendation, said that if a national authority works for road management in the country, then it would bring uniformity in the construction of roads.

He said that currently in some gewogs, some farm roads were blacktopped and in some, only the granular sub-base was laid.

The committee also recommended DoR to review the Guidelines for Farm Road Development, 2019, and rationalise the length of the chiwog and farm roads to be maintained by local government and road user groups.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that the new infrastructure and transport ministry would replace the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement with four departments – surface and air transport, human settlement and infrastructure.

The PAC’s recommendations are the mandates of the new ministry, Lyonchhen said.

During the joint sitting, MPs made proposals for new recommendations from which the committee was directed to look into the inclusion of a budget for bridge construction and a proposal for land substitution while planning for farm road construction.

PAC in their findings stated that there was no classification of roads causing inconvenience on the territorial boundary and availing maintenance budget.

It was also stated that the road user groups were facing challenges in maintaining the farm roads because farm roads were lengthy and were used by heavy vehicles and machinery for mining, quarrying and logging who do not contribute to the maintenance of the farm roads.

The joint sitting will continue the deliberation on the report and the committee will report on the two recommendations today.