GC road: While blacktopping works for Tang gewog centre road in Bumthang is still underway, questions are being raised about the quality.

Of the 17km road from the dzongkhag to Tang gewog centre, 13km is blacktopped.  Between the stretches, however, more than 50 patches of ruts have developed.

A villager from Phrombong, Tshering Dorji, said that people of the gewog are worried about the road condition. “I don’t know if it is the quality of the blacktopping or trucks plying on the road. Road condition is deteriorating every day.”

He said that road surfaces are coming out and it will not be long before the road will be riddled with potholes.

Another villager, Ugyen, said that blacktopping of the gewog centre road benefitted people as taxis fares reduced. “With deteriorating road condition, chances are that fares could go up again.”

He hopes that the gewog, dzongkhag and department of roads (DoRs) will look into the problem soon. “The government’s pledge to blacktop all the gewog centre roads would not be fulfilled if ruts and potholes are formed even before the blacktopping is complete.”

DoR’s executive engineer in Bumthang, Sangay Dorji, said heavy trucks ferrying logs and construction materials in the gewog caused the ruts.

He said that DoRs is concerned about the road defects and wrote to Natural Resource Development Corporation Limited (NRDCL) and the gewog.

Sangay Dorji said while blacktopping was done as per government’s directives for drainage, rectifying base course and blacktop, some ruts on the edges of the roads were construction defects. “We discussed with the contractor and they will rectify it soon,” he said.

While villagers and DoRs officials blamed heavy trucks, including trucks ferrying logs from Tang, NRDCL officials say the ruts were formed even before their logging operation.

NRDCL’s regional manager in Bumthang, Kinley, said they issued only about 20 truck loads of logs as of now and have complied with DoRs notification to ferry loads below 18 tonnes. “The road defects were there before our depot started operating and we even took pictures and reported to DoRs,” he said.

Tang road, which was constructed more than three decades ago for yak and sheep breeding centre in the gewog, saw a facelift when a budget of Nu 41.48M was allocated for the blacktopping. As of now, Nu 31M has been used to blacktop 14km of road.

Bumthang residents, however, raised concerns that maintaining gewog centre road would be a problem in the future. “The government and road officials have been saying that heavy trucks shouldn’t be allowed to ply on gewog centre road,” an official in Bumthang said. “But it is heavy trucks that ferry the main cash crop of Bumthang, potato, and gewog developmental activity materials.”

Sources said that it was not only the Tang gewog centre road but also Chhoekhor GC road that started developing ruts and potholes a year after it was blacktopped. “This must be the condition throughout the country,” Ugyen said. “There should be a solution to the problem.”

Tashi Dema