Sherab Lhamo

The much-awaited Southern East-West highway connecting Sarpang to Lhamoidzingkha could finally take off in the 13thPlan with the  surface transport department ready with a proposal pending government approval.

Construction of the highway was planned a decade ago. The former Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa government also pledged to connect Lhamoizingkha and Gelephu with a highway. A highway connecting the entire length of the planned Gelephu Special Administrative Zone has become crucial with most places not connected by a secure internal road.

Officials from the surface transport department, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, said that after getting approval for the plan and securing funds, a detailed feasibility study will be done. “Following the preparation of a detailed project report, construction will be initiated through the procurement of consultancy services,” said the official.

The Southern East-West National Highway is expected to connect Samtse and Samdrupjongkhar with an internal road network. The Lhamoidzingkha-Sarpang highway, estimated to be around 94 kilometres, passing through the Phibsoo National Park, is one of the few remaining areas on the southern national highway to be connected.

The PDP’s Member of Parliament-elect from Shompangkha constituency in Sarpang pledged to complete the Southern East-West highway by building or improving the Sarpang-Lhamoidzingkha road, besides  widening the Sarpang-Tsirang highway.

The PDP while in governance in 2018 decided not to pursue the construction of the road citing security issues. The then minister of the erstwhile works and human settlement ministry Dasho Dorji Choden said that there was still occasional movement of miscreants reported in that area.

Officials yesterday, told Kuensel that the project between Nganglam and Dewathang was handed over to  project Dantak.

Meanwhile, formation cutting works on the 24-km Nganglam to Chhoekhorling highway which started in September 2022 is nearing completion, according to officials.

Project Dantak meanwhile has submitted the detailed project report for the 33-km Chhoekhorling to Dewathang highway. The surface transport division is reviewing the report, which is expected to be finalised by the end of this month.