Nim Dorji | Trongsa

There is a long list of promises to be fulfilled in the next three years. But voters of Chhoekhor are upbeat about the pledges of blacktopping three farm roads in the gewog.

The promises are of the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s candidate, Dawa. It is at the moment what keeps people talking in the Chhoekhortoed region.

The promise is to blacktop the 18km farm road from the gewog centre in Chhoekhortoed to Narphel, the 10km road to Dhur from the gewog centre and another 12km from Tang gewog centre to Tandigang.

The three farm roads were constructed before the institution of democracy. The promises are not new. Two political parties did that before. Twelve years later, the road that connects the maximum voters, is back on the agenda.

The first local government proposed blacktopping of the Chhoekhortoed and Dhur roads in the Dzongkhag Tshogdu. As it was categorised as a farm road, it was not eligible for blacktopping. According to LG officials, they could not get the approval to use fund from the Common Minimum Infrastructure as the roads were farm roads and not eligible for blacktopping from the CMI.

However, there are some developments even before the bye-election on November 19. The road to Chhoekhortoed, constructed between 2005 and 2006, will be base-coursed from November 24 with support from the Small Development Project (SDP). The road to Dhur will have to wait for the second phase. The Dhur road at the moment is pliable, but it will be difficult to travel during monsoon.

The road is mostly used for ferrying logs and stones and its condition has worsened.

If blacktopped, the Chhoekhor and Dhur roads will benefit more than 300 households with about 2,500 people. The gewog could decide the election if all its eligible voters turn out.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s candidate, Tenzin Norbu is convinced that the pledge of blacktopping the roads will not make a difference. The candidate has not promised much and seems convinced that blacktopping of farm roads is not reasonable as it is against government policy. “There are many farm roads that need to be blacktopped in many constituencies which have representatives in the government,” he said. “Pledging only to blacktop farm roads here (Chhoekhor -Tang) is politics,” he added.

He has, however, promised to carry out granular sub base (GSB) of Dhur and Tang farm roads and ensure the completion of GSB of Chhoekhortoed farm road. “The roads were without blacktop for more than three decades and pledging to do so during an election is just to get votes,” he said.

For the people, the road matters. A resident of Chhoekhortoed said that blacktopping of the road is very important as they had been struggling without a good road. “It remained in the pledges in all the elections, but nothing was done till date,” she said. “We can hope for a better road this time even if it is just a base course.” Residents also feel that a representative from the constituency in the ruling party could make a difference.

But there are still some who are skeptical. They point to the 8km Shingkhar farm road in Ura.

Blacktopping of the 8km Shingkhar farm road in Ura had always been a pledge of political parties. “It never happened although our representative was in the ruling party from two different parties,” said a DPT supporter.

Meanwhile, Tang farm road connects all 23 villages. It is pledged that the 12km road from Tang gewog centre to Tandigang will be blacktopped. There are three chiwogs – Kizom, Tandigang and Khangrab with more than 1,500 people.