Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupcholing

Seven months after the construction of Samrang-Jomotshangkha highway in Samdrupjongkhar resumed, promising the road beneficiaries that it would complete in two to three months, the construction remains incomplete.

Much to the dismay of Jomotshangkha residents, Project Dantak has made the contractors to withdraw machines from the construction site last month. 

The 58km highway stretch, the construction of which started in 2016, begins from Rongchuthang in Jomotshangkha to Samrang in Samdrupcholing drungkhag. The Department of Roads executed the first 47km stretch and handed the remaining work over to Project Dantak. 

The highway will connect Jomotshangkha drungkhag to Samdrupjongkhar via Samrang in Samdrupcholing drungkhag and residents will not have to travel via India once the construction completes.

Residents are questioning why the works stopped.

Pooja Pokhrel, 26, from Langchenphu gewog said the wait for the road has been too long.

She said that all the residents were happy when the road construction began in 2016 but with the road still incomplete, they face the same challenges. “Without an internal road, we cannot access all facilities in the dzongkhag and our livelihood is also affected.”

Another resident, Tandin Wangmo, said they have to travel along the Assam highway in India when they go to Samdrupjongkhar, which is time-consuming and also risky. “Today, we cannot even travel along the Indian highways because of Covid-19.”

Sonam Dawa, 40, said they were hopeful that the road construction would complete soon when Project Dantak started the construction works on April 26.

“But Dantak has now stopped the work and made the contractors withdraw their machines from the site,” he said.

Residents said that the highway would also help the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) officials to improve electricity supply in Jomotshangkha.

“The road would have been connected by this time if the government had allowed DoR to complete it,” a resident said. “We still don’t know why the government awarded the 11km road construction to Dantak.”

Project Dantak is carrying out base course and maintenance works at the moment.

Meanwhile, DoR is constructing bridges at Kalokhola and Nunai.