Motorists plying along the 67kms Samdrupcholing-Dewathang highway are worried about the worsening road condition every day.
The highway connects Samdrupcholing drungkhag to Samdrupjongkhar via Dewathang.
A truck driver, Thukten Tashi, 31, said that the road is filled with potholes in every metre distance.
He also claimed that although the widening works are complete, the road is not blacktopped.
Thukten travels to Samdrupjongkhar to ferry cement but he says it is difficult to ply on the road. “It is even difficult for trucks to ply through the road.”
Road users also claim that while the number of vehicles plying along the highway increased over the years, the highway is still narrow.
Dawa, 43, said although the road is graded as a highway, the condition of the road is worse than a farm road.
Pemathang gup, Madhukar Subba, said though the highway was maintained and blacktopped until Martang from Dewathang, the road condition is still worse from Martang to Samdrupcholing since it is not blacktopped and it is ridden with potholes.
He said poor road condition extends the travel time.
The gup said that the issue was discussed in the dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) in 2015 and officials from Department of Roads (DoR) informed the DT then that they will maintain the road phase wise.
He said that since they don’t see any progress of the road maintenance, the gups of the four gewogs in the drungkhag will raise the issue in the upcoming DT session.
DoR officials in Samdrupjongkhar also agreed that there was a need for maintenance and blacktopping of the highway.
DoR’s chief engineer, Jigme choidup, said they received Nu 15 million from the works and human settlement ministry for the highway maintenance and blacktopping. “The work will begin in August or after the monsoon.”
He also said that the budget would be used to blacktop about 10kms. “ We are planning to blacktop 50mm because there are many trucks plying on the highway carrying coal and mines. The 25mm blacktopping doesn’t last long.”
He said that the budget might cover about five kilometres for the 50mm blacktop.
Jigme Choidup said that about 23km have been blacktopped towards the drungkhag from Dewathang and with the additional five kilometres, a total of 28km will be blacktopped. “The widening works are completed except for drainage and blacktopping.”
He said they didn’t blacktop it earlier since the blacktopping along with the road widening hampers the work progress.
He said they don’t have the budget to blacktop the whole stretch but they always conduct maintenance time and again.
Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupcholing