Only eight kilometres of the 55km highway remains to be completed

Road: The Panbang – Nganglam highway is expected to be completed ahead of its second deadline.

A 30km section of the highway originating from Ngamglam dungkhag in Pemagatshel was completed on May 3, while the second 25km section from Panbang dungkhag in Zhemgang is almost completed.

Only eight kilometres of the second section remain to be black topped.

The construction of 55km highway began in June 2012. Initially, it was supposed to have been completed by December, last year. However, the deadline was pushed to August this year.

If it had not been for an early monsoon, project officials said, completing the highway had been ahead of time by about three months and would have been completed by now.

The highway starts from Panbang bazaar, passes via Norbugang gewog in Nganglam and ends in Nganglam bazaar.

Awarded to the Marushin Construction Company based in Japan, the highway is part of the road network project II under the roads department.

Project manager, Karma Tshewang, said while they are confident the work will be competed ahead of its deadline, the early monsoon has disrupted work.

“The pavement works are hampered due to high moisture content of the base, which are not able to receive prime coat and asphalt,” he said. “Otherwise, all the drainage works are completed and only construction of few walls are left.”

Of the Nu 704.3 million estimated cost of the highway, about Nu 680 million has been utilised so far but the final bill for the Nganglam section is still being prepared.

With the highway completion nearing and asphalt works being mechanised, the project has deployed only about 45 labourers compared to 170 earlier.

“Everything is going smoothly otherwise except for having to deal with rocky and unstable stretches from the Nganglam side. But we’re little worried with the short (supply) of bitumen in the market as it will hamper asphalt work.”

The project manager added with the highway insured for Nu 3.75 million, it becomes easier to maintain the road and cover any kind of destruction on the road due to natural calamities.

The highway is expected to benefit the villagers of Nganglam and Panbang.

Villagers will have easier access to the market for their oranges. They will not have to route through Barpeta, India to go to Panbang or other dzongkhags.

The road will also help truckers that transport cement to different projects from the Dungsam Cement plant especially during strikes in Assam.

Although the road is not officially open to traffic, people have already started using the highway. However, only those in an emergency are allowed to use the highway currently.

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Nganglam