Phub Dem | Paro

Works to widen the narrow and busy road stretch leading to Paro hospital will begin next month.

Wangchang Gup Kuenzang Rinzin said that if it weren’t for the second nationwide lockdown, construction would have begun.

He said that the work would begin towards March after completing the tendering processes.

The project with an estimated budget of Nu 14 million will construct drains, base course, and blacktop the one-kilometre stretch and widen it to 5.5-metre until the hospital.

According to the site engineer, the work is expected to complete in eight months.

Local leaders had pointed out growing concern of accidents in every dzongkhag tshogdu (DT).

Wangchang gup even suggested making the road one-way. But the DT decided on widening the road.

Paro DT resolved to widen the road several times but remained unsuccessful due to budget shortage after the road was handed over to dzongkhag by the Department of Road (DoR).

During a DT session in 2017, DoR agreed to propose the project to the Work and Human Settlement ministry, however, there had been no progress since then.

Although the dzongkhag did not include the budget in this fiscal year, Paro DT resolved to reprioritise the work last year.

Senior planning officer of Paro, Phuntsho Tashi said that the road widening was reprioritised in place of constructing two classroom blocks in Doteng and Drugyel schools.

He said that after drawing experience from the slow progress of ongoing construction projects affected by the pandemic, the dzongkhag committee decided to reprioritise the work as per the Gross National Happiness Commission’s directives.

“Unlike other construction work, we don’t require foreign workers as the work can be carried out with the locally available resources and materials,” he said.

Commuters on Geptay-hospital road have been frustrated with the delay in widening work that has been underway for years now.

It has been a great deal of difficulty for commuters who face traffic congestion every day.

For residents like Pem, who lives right below the road, the news came as a huge relief. She said that there were many accidents above her house. “Once a bus veered off the road and fell over my house. Luckily, no one was at home.”

With the delay in widening the road, she took a loan and built a gabion wall last year. “It is risky as the road is busy, and there are reckless drivers.”