The MoWHS has received reports but is yet to confirm where the subcontracting is occurring 

The works and human settlement ministry has received information on contractors involved in the East-West Highway construction subletting works to sub-contractors, Lyonpo Dorji Choden.

However, the minister during the meet the press on March 2, said that although the ministry would be looking into the case, they are yet to find out if the contractors have sublet the entire or parts of the road construction works.

“We’ve just received the information,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said. “We will have to see where exactly is the subletting happening.”

The ministry’s core mandate, she said, is to ensure fair tendering process, evaluation process and that the work is awarded properly and transparently.

“We’ve no idea because it is also difficult to find out who is sub-contracting and who is not,” she said. “I don’t think our job is also to monitor and find whether the contract is sub-contracted but to make sure that the contractor has met all the contractual terms and agreement drawn.”

The ministry makes sure that the main contractor is involved in the meeting during the process of monitoring, which is what the ministry holds for whenever they draw the monitoring visit, implement and review the work progress.

On if sub-contracting was occurring between the Tsangkha-Yotongla stretches, the minister said that the ministry received about two reports on subletting but it is not clear where the subletting is happening.  “Tsangkha-Yotongla is a long stretch where we’ve many contract packages.”

Lyonpo Dorji Choden also explained that there is a provision, which allows contractors to sub-contract specifically for certain work or an amount of the total contract.

However, Lyonpo added that if a contractor wants to sub-contract part of the work, the main contractor has to declare in the first stance as per the bidding document that he or she wants to sub-contract.

“Then during evaluation, the contractor should assure that the sub-contractor also has the capacity to carry out the work.”

She did not share details of the subletting reports reported to ministry.

The East-West Highway project, according to the minister, is divided into almost 40 contract packages. The widening part of the work has been completed including the base course work and blacktop work is on – going.

“Few stretches like the Tshangkha-Yotongla stretches, Yadi to Trashigang, which is carried out by DANTAK might take time,” lyonpo said. “Since there are many contractors involved, some of the contractors fail to complete on time.”

The minister in the last National Assembly session reported that constructing the 368km East-West highway would cost about Nu 7 billion in three years.

To date, the 65km road from Simtokha – Wangdue has been completed. Road widening has been completed for 86km Wangdi – Chuserboo road and 30 percent of the road has been blacktopped.

Yangchen C Rinzin