Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Motorists plying along the 135km Pemagatshel-Nganglam highway say they are worried about the worsening road condition each year.

The road which was completed in 2013 connects Nganglam drungkhag to Pemagatshel via Tshobalay. 

A truck driver, Sonam, said the road is riddled with potholes. Sonam ferries gypsum from Pemagatshel to Nganglam. “It is difficult even for trucks to ply on the road because few stretches are narrow and risky,” he said. 

The road is blacktopped only up to Tshobalay from Nganglam towards Pemagatshel. The issue was also discussed in the dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) several times.

Ugyen Dorji, a private employee, said he travels to Nganglam at least four times a week to visit his construction site. “We do not understand why the road has been left without blacktop for so long.” 

He said that the poor road condition also extends the travel time. “It is high time for the concerned agencies like Department of Roads (DoR) to blacktop if not it will only worsen,” Ugyen said. 

Road users also claim that although the DoR workers are carrying out maintenance, the condition does not improve. More than 20 vehicles ply on the road every day, a driver said. 

Residents said most of the people travel by the Nganglam-Pemagatshel highway as there is transportation service. “But it is risky to travel because the condition of the road is worse than a farm road despite being a highway,” Thinley, a resident of Pemagatshel said. 

They said the bad road condition also affects the crops because of dust. “We feel that we are been neglected for any developmental activities.”  

DoR’s Chief Engineer, Jigme Choidup, said it has been more than three years since they have been carrying out the blacktopping works and completed 24km so far. He said they had also awarded blacktopping work for eight kilometres worth Nu 15M. 

He said that blacktopping works would be carried out as per the budget they get. “But we always carry out maintenance works like filling the potholes whenever it is required.”