Should everything go as planned, the road connecting Mongar and Zhemgang at Silambi and Bardo gewogs respectively would be completed in the next year.

Responding to the question from Kengkhar Weringla Member of Parliament (MP), Rinzin Jamtsho, on the status of the road at the National Assembly yesterday, Zhabtog Lyonpo (works and human settlement minister) Dorji Tshering said that works have already started from the Silambi side. 

Lyonpo said that after receiving the forest clearance from the agriculture ministry, works to connect the two dzongkhags began recently. “Similar to the northern and southern east-west highway, this road would be the central highway connecting the eastern and western parts of the country, once completed.”

 He said that the two bordering gewogs — Silambi in Mongar and Bardo in Zhemgang — will start constructing the road from their respective areas until they connect at Nomaila. “This would become an important road especially during winter when Yotongla (between Trongsa and Bumthang) and Thrumshingla (between Bumthang and Mongar) remain covered in thick snow for weeks.”

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said that the ministry had also recently awarded the task to generate a detailed project report (DPR) concerning the construction of a route towards Sherichhu in Trashigang along the Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway to a local consultant.

“We would have started the project already if it wasn’t for the pandemic. We couldn’t draw the DPR as it involved experts from outside,” he said. “However, we could not wait for the external experts for the DPR. And it was also an opportunity for our local expertise to showcase their talents which is why we gave the works to a local company.”

The response came after the  Dramedtse Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi questioned the minister on the status of the government’s pledge to construct the route. 

Zhabtog Lyonpo said that the Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway was one of the most important roads that benefited the people in the east. To reap additional benefits, he said that the government had promised to construct a road from Kurigongri Zomsa (the confluence of Kurichhu from Mongar and Gongrichhu from Trashigang) towards Sherichhu in Trashigang.

“The new route will benefit people of nine gewogs in Mongar besides directly benefiting the people in Trashigang and Trashiyangtse.”

The minister said that once the DPR was ready, construction could begin.

On the concern of insufficient budget to carry out Granular Sub Base (GSB) for the farm roads in the gewogs, raised by Nanong-Shumar MP, Lungten Namgyel, Lyonpo said that to lay GSB for a kilometre of farm road, the government was spending about Nu 1.6 million (M), which was more than sufficient. 

The cost, Lyonpo said, was worked out based on the past quotation received from contractors. “However, if the budget is not sufficient, we have asked the gewog and the dzongkhag administrations to support with the additional cost.” 

In the wake of the pandemic, the minister said that the government was using local materials and manpower to lay the GSB in a phase-wise manner. In the first phase, about 1,564km of farm road across 201 gewogs has been identified to receive the GSB support.  

By Younten Tshedup