… is all the GC road has received since its ministerial inauguration eight months ago

Martshala: By this time of the year, villagers of Martshala gewog had expected to ply over their new blacktopped gewog connectivity (GC) road.

However, eight months after it was inaugurated for blacktopping, villagers claim that the road’s condition has instead worsened.

Works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden in November last year inaugurated the Martshala GC road to be blacktopped, the second in the country after Bartsham’s GC road in Trashigang.

Villagers said only about three metres of the 13km GC road has been blacktopped, which was done on its inauguration.

Although widening and construction of drainage work as part of the blacktopping work is going on, villagers claim that this has worsened the road’s condition because it remains blocked whenever it rains.

Many also questioned if the inauguration of the blacktopping was an eyewash, because GC road blacktopping is one of the government’s pledges.

“During the inauguration, we were told that the road would be blacktopped and completed the next day,” a villager Jigme Dorji said. “But we don’t know what’s happening now and we wonder if the  government has again run out of budget.”

Gup Yenten Dorji said they were informed that the contractor still has time to complete the work.

“When the road was under the gewog, we’d make sure that it’s maintained but ever since roads department took over, we hardly see any maintenance work,” he said.

However, the department of roads’ chief engineer in Samdrupjongkhar, Dorji Gyeltshen, said they are well on track and that they would complete the blacktop work by December, the deadline.

Before the blacktop starts, he said, there are other works that needs to be completed such as cross drainage, road widening, realignment and construction of culverts.

“Simultaneously, the contractor is mobilising raw materials for asphalt for blacktop work to start as soon as the monsoon ends,” he said.

He said budget was also not an issue and to date, they have received Nu 14.4 million of the estimated Nu 37.7 million. “Villagers should not worry and understand that there are many processes involved before completing the work,” he said.

The GC road, constructed in 2008, will serve 23 villages and about 664 households.

By Yangchen C Rinzin