Sangay Lhamo and Khandu Om

The 24km farm road  between Chungkha and Toktokha chiwogs in Bongo gewog, Chukha has been deteriorating since its maintenance began last year, according to villagers.  

Chungkha chiwog villagers are concerned that the road that had been in good condition for over 16 years would be left in a poor state after ongoing maintenance work.

The maintenance work to lay granular sub-base, reinforcement, and drainage awarded to M/s Penden Lham Construction was scheduled to be completed by May this year. However, the work was not completed and the dzongkhag granted an extension until August 23.

Yet, the work stands far from completion, according to the villagers.

The villagers have raised concerns about the poor quality of work and the negative impact it has had on the community to various extents.

One of the major issues is the lack of a proper drainage system which renders the road difficult to ply during the monsoon.

Pema Dorji, a villager, said, “The numerous potholes have appeared making travel difficult for both vehicles and pedestrians.”

“Even the contractor’s own trucks have to be pushed by their JCB bulldozer every time,” he said.

The villagers complained to the dzongkhag administration on March 31 which resulted in the formation of a road committee. The former dzongdag, accompanied by a group of officials, also visited the site to assess the situation.

Chhukha Chief engineer said, “The Dzongkhag Monitoring and Tender Committee addressed the complaint, and no further complaints were received.”

Nima, a member of the road committee, said, “Not long ago, we had a sick person who needed to be picked up by ambulance. They said they won’t come again fearing the risky road condition.”

The quality of the maintenance work has also been called into question.

Bathra, a villager, said that they claim that the condition of the road deteriorated due to monsoon rainfall.

Villagers have alleged that the workers needlessly dug in some areas, resulting in additional potholes and further damaging the road.

A former gup of Bongo gewog, Tashi Dorji, said, “The road’s condition has become worse that individuals are parking their vehicles near the Phuentsholing Highway and opting to walk instead.”

The maintenance work has disrupted the water supply and irrigation channels for a few households in Toktokha village.

A villager from Toktokha said, “Despite informing the site engineer, we were told that the contractor would handle it. However, no action has been taken, and we repaired the canal so that we could transplant our paddy on time.”

The contract period is coming to an end, and villagers are concerned with the work progress.

The contractor said, “The category of contract that I have undertaken is a large contract that would actually take more than a year, but the government reduced it to 8 months and I was told to complete it anyhow before the 13th Plan.”

He claims that the short contract period was a mistake.

He said that they have made significant efforts to complete the project within the given short deadline.  He was given a two-month extension after his request for an extension for five more months to complete the project.

The contractor also said that the soling of the road was unnecessary and that a granular sub-base (GSB) would have sufficed, leading to disagreements with the villagers.

With the contract expiring and completion still uncertain, tensions are rising as villagers are worried about the future of their road. They feel let down by their leaders and hope for immediate improvements to restore the road to its previous state. The affected households also seek repairs for the damage caused to their water pipelines.