With first cutting for Sakteng gewog centre (GC) road to complete next month, Department of Roads (DoR) officials in Trashigang say that the  road would open to traffic by December this year.

Of the 15 gewogs in Trashigang, Sakteng is the only gewog that is not connected with a GC road.

Works on the 11.5km GC road began in November 2015. DoR completed 8km of trace cutting works last month. A 120ft bailey bridge at Thrakthi, the current nearest road point to Sakteng, was launched in November last year.

The Chubjarongchu bridge in Thrakthi is one of the two bailey bridges that would be constructed along the GC road.

Sakteng gup, Sangay Dorji, said if the road construction completes by December, people would no longer have to suffer. “However, going by the DoR’s current progress of work, I’m afraid the road would not be ready by year end.”

However, a resident of the gewog, who did not wish to be named, said that although works are ongoing, the progress has been negligible so far.

“We have been waiting for the road for more than three years now,” he said. “Our expectations are not unreasonable for we have witnessed the 38kms road from Rangjung to Thrakthi complete in four years.”

The slow progress of work at the GC road came under scrutiny during one of the dzongkhag tshogdus last year where local leaders during the tshogdu requested that the GC road work is tendered to private contractors.

DoR officials said that work progress was delayed during the initial stage of construction, mainly due to poor coordination between different machinery suppliers.

Following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the department and Construction Development Corporation Ltd (CDCL), in February 2017, CDCL have deployed its equipment at the site.

Weather remains one of the biggest challenges at the location, DoR officials said. “With extreme weather condition and altitude, it was difficult to find committed labourers for the work,” an official said.

The official said rainy season has begun since last month making it more difficult to work on the hilly locations. “But we are managing by working extra hours in the morning when there is no rain. We are hopeful to complete the works as per the plan.”

Officials said that the department is deploying additional machinery during peak dry season to make up for the lost working hours during summer and winter.

It was learnt that the department could work effectively in a year only for about six to seven months.

Meanwhile, the formation of cutting-works along the 11km GC road is estimated to cost around Nu 95.12 million (M). An additional Nu 12M is expected to incur in the construction of the two bailey bridges.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang