Work on Wangdue-Thimphu highway suspended

… until after the monsoon

Road: Work on the Wangdue-Thimphu highway will be suspended until the end of the monsoon season.

This was decided during a joint meeting held between engineers from the Department of Roads (DoR) in Lobesa, contractors and a technical team from the works and human settlement ministry.

Chief engineer with the DoR regional office in Lobesa, GM Rai, said since it has become impossible for the contractors to work with continuous rainfall and traffic they decided to stop for now. The work will however be resumed by mid-September when the monsoon season ends, said GM Rai.

Following accidents occurring between Lampelri and above the Thinleygang area, commuters had raised concerns about safety, blaming the bad road conditions caused by the base-course, which has turned muddy, that was laid for the pavement.

Some drivers told Kuensel that they doubt if the concerned authorities are monitoring the quality of the base-course. The base-course was muddy instead of being made up of gravel.

When it rains heavily, no taxis were willing to use the road, said local residents, as it becomes difficult for small cars to get through the mud.

GM Rai said to avoid causing inconveniences to commuters they have removed the base-course.

Since the former foundation has settled it is more comfortable to drive on than the present base-course.

This is the second major problem to occur on the highway which is undergoing  widening. In May, a certain portion of the newly paved road at Thinleygang and Lobesa had to be dug up. DoR officials had attributed water seepage for the problem.

On quality, GM Rai said DoR has a system in place to check each layer including the base course. “All the materials laid on the road were tested by both the contractors and DoR through lab-testing,” said the chief engineer. “We don’t allow any contractor to lay any materials before passing the lab-testing at the Lobesa office.”

GM Rai said the problem has been caused because of the continuous rainfall and non-stop traffic. The continuous rainfall has prevented the base-course from settling, he said.

He said the base-course laid was composed of the same material used for the 10km stretch between below Dochula till Lamperli, where there are no issues.

He said the problems is occurring on a 10km stretch from below Lampelri till Lumitsawa. Slight problems also occurred on the third 10km stretch between Lumitsawa till Chasagana.

However, DoR officials said the contractor has proposed for a change in material of the base course.

Completion of the entire road may be delayed by a few weeks given that work will only resume after the monsoon. The road was expected to be completed by September.

Dawa Gyelmo

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