Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Not long after the blacktopping of the road between Ngatshang and Yadi on the Mongar-Trashigang highway was completed, several potholes have emerged causing problems for travellers and drivers on the highway.

The blacktopping, with the usage of new ZeoCrete pavement technology, was completed in 2018. It has already undergone maintenance twice. The third round of maintenance will be executed soon, in accordance with a letter issued by the Department of Roads (DOR) on maintenance, to be carried out before the end of 2021.

The blacktopping work, adopting a new cementitious-based pavement technology to construct roads instead of the conventional bitumen method, was awarded to M/s Bhutan ZeoCrete Pavement Technologies (JV), a joint venture company (between India-based ZeoCrete Technology and Yarkay Construction Pvt. Ltd.) on June 2, 2016 for Nu 184.766 million. It was completed on December 30, 2018.

The contractor was given a defect liability period of three years, in line with the general conditions of contract in the standard bidding document, so any breakdown during this period must be rectified by the contractor.

The regional office has retained 10 percent amounting to Nu 15 million from the total contract cost, and asked the contractor in writing to conduct the next round of maintenance before the end of 2021. 

Failure to do so would lead to forfeiture of the retention money.

The contractor completed the first rectification on March 31, 2020, followed by the most recent rectification on damaged portions with cold-mix, completed in June of this year.

DOR officials are investigating the situation.

A team of officials from the regional office (RO) of DOR, Lingmethang, went to verify the site on August 25, and recommended pothole mending.

The report submitted to the DOR pointed out that only 4km out of the 10km of road were found to have minimal damage.

The chief engineer with the RO, Lingmethang, Kinzang Dorji, said that the maintenance work was carried out.

The Royal Audit Authority pointed out in its 2019 report that the RO Lingmethang, under the directives of the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), had awarded the contract to M/s Bhutan ZeoCrete Pavement Technologies (Joint Venture) directly, and that the office failed to incorporate the cost and risk factors for the demonstration of the technology in the contract agreement, as required in the letter by the Secretary for MoWHS to the minister.

It also pointed out that the RO Lingmethang, under instructions from the ministry, had revised the contract amount with undue benefit to the contractor amounting to Nu. 6.684 million.

Kuensel contacted officials from Yarkay Construction Pvt. Ltd., but they were not available for comment.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk