Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse

The Department of Road (DoR) would blacktop 20km stretch of Lhuentse-Gangola highway if budget gets approved.

DoR is resurfacing 11km of the highway from Budur to Gorgan with the budget approved in the past financial year. Work is expected to complete by July this year.

Officials said resurfacing work of 65km highway began in 2017, but they are conducting stretch-wise based on budget approval. With the completion of the ongoing work, 45km of the stretch will be blacktopped.

“We’ve proposed Nu 40 million to resurface the remaining 20km of the highway,” an assistant engineer Gayleg, said. “Work will be executed in 2022-2023 financial year if Gross National Happiness Commission approves the budget.”

The need to improve the secondary national highway was the priority of Lhuentse residents and the issue was also raised in several dzongkhag tshogdu sessions.

DoR initiated resurfacing work since the proposal to widen and improve the road didn’t get through.

Residents claim they are already benefitting from the resurfaced work.

A frequent traveller from Lhuentse to Mongar, Jigme, said travelling time has been reduced by 15 minutes after the resurfacing work and blacktopping the entire stretch will benefit them more.

Meanwhile, DoR’s Autsho sub-division has also proposed for the budget to resurface and improve gewog roads of Kurtoe and Maenbi, which are under its jurisdiction.

The 42.5km road between Lhuentse and Dungkar and 14.65km between Tangmachhu bridge-Takela are also in dire need of maintenance.

Many people visit the sites for historic and cultural significance.

Maenbi gewog mangmi, Kelzang Jamtsho, said people visit Guru statue at Takela and the number of visitors has increased over the years.

He said Takela road was blacktopped in three phases of which the latest one was done in 2015 and it is high time to resurface the road.

According to Gayleg, they proposed road improvement work every year and Nu 20 million was approved in 2019. “However, it was slashed after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.”

He said they proposed Nu 33M to resurface Takela road and Nu 147M for the road to Dungkar.

DoR has also proposed the widening of 15km road stretch between Tangmachhu bridge to Lhuentse town into primary national highway standard because of the heavy traffic caused by government, corporate and private offices.