With the construction works along the 11.50km gewog centre road in Sakteng scheduled to complete by July this year, vehicles can soon reach Sakteng, the last gewog in Trashigang waiting to be connected with a gewog road.

Department of Roads (DoR) officials said that the finishing of the gewog road would be completed by this financial year but vehicular movements can begin as early as mid February.

Following delays over the construction of the road, local leaders of the gewog raised concern over department’s competency to execute the work.

In 2017, during one of the dzongkhag tshogdu, Sakteng gup, Sangay Dorji, requested if the works could be tendered to private contractors.

The gup said that DoR has failed to complete the works that began in November 2015 even after repeated pressure from the local government.

He said that private contractors completed the 36km road from Rangjung to Thrakthi (the existing nearest road point) in four years. “We have just about 12km and the department is taking too long making people impatient,” he said. “Unlike private contractors who work against time, it seems DoR has all the time in the world.”

DoR officials said that the current physical progress includes the completion of 11.5km trace cutting and about 9.5km of depth cutting works including the installation of a 120ft bailey bridge over Chubjarongchu in Thrakthi.

Trace cutting work involves clearing of the stretch that allow only machines to ply. Once depth cutting of the stretch is completed, the road can allow vehicular movements.

Another 80ft bailey bridge over Nangzorchu would be laid by the end of February.

It was learnt that the department was supposed to complete the trace cutting works by July last year and open traffic for vehicles till the gewog centre by December last month.

Following heavy rainfall last year, the target could not be met. Officials said extreme weather conditions at the site including snowfall during winter and heavy rain during summer hampered work progress. Frequent breakdown of machines due to extreme cold also hindered the progress.

However, the progress is being accelerated following the signing of a contract with the construction Development Corporation Ltd (CDCL) to deploy its machineries and equipment at the site.

Officials added that additional machineries are being deployed during dry season accelerate the progress.

Meanwhile, residents are happy with the progress, as the travel time to the gewog from the nearest road point has been reduced significantly.

Until last year, people used to take more than three hours from Thrakthi to reach the gewog. Today the travel time from the road point is about 30 minutes.

“Both man and animal has benefitted from the road as we can reach faster to our village now,” said Karma, a resident. “It is only a matter of few months now until we can take our vehicles till our doorsteps.”

The GC road to Sakteng from Thrakthi is constructed at an estimate of Nu 128.138 million (M). So far the department has invested about Nu 87,938M.

The blacktopping of the GC road would be carried during the 2019-2020 fiscal year along with realigning and gradient correction of the 36km Dogorom-Thrakthi road.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang