The persistent request by Norgaygang Gewog in Samtse for the Department of Surface Transport to reclaim ownership of its 17-kilometre Gewog Center road has not been accepted yet again. Local authorities reasoned that the lengthy road exceeded their budget for repairs. The 17-kilometre road, meant for connectivity and transport, is in a state of neglect.
Since the completion of the road in 2017, it has not undergone any major renovation work.
The Gewog administration’s limited budget is inadequate to fund the necessary repairs, and their repeated appeals to the Department of Surface Transport for intervention have never been considered.
During the recent Dzongkhag Tshogdu, local authorities highlighted the pressing concerns surrounding the road and asked if the Department of Surface Transport could retake the ownership and maintenance of the road.
“The GC road is in dire need of a major renovation. We have over 600 households in our gewog. Sherabgatshel School has also been upgraded and we have a lot of teachers and health facilitators living in the gewog. And there are farmers. We all have to rely on this road. The road’s poor condition is hampering us a lot,” said Shyam Kumar Gurung, the Norgaygang Gup.
The Department of Surface Transport’s chief engineer said they are awaiting directives from the ministry.
“We cannot decide to take over the roads again. For this, we will have to get orders from our ministry. It was once under our department but it was handed over to the gewogs a few years ago. We do not know how we can retake the ownership of the roads. And we are yet to get orders from our heads,” said Karma Dorji, chief engineer of the Department of Surface Transport, Regional Office in Phuentshogling.
The policy shift around the ownership and maintenance of GC roads occurred in 2019 when the cabinet handed over the responsibilities to the respective gewogs in all districts.
The objective was to empower local governance and strengthen the local government.
However, the joint sitting of the third Parliament in December last year endorsed the transfer of the construction and maintenance of GC roads back to the Department of Surface Transport.
This is after the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament recommended that the Local Government lacks the technical competence and resources to construct and maintain GC roads.
The department has yet to take over the responsibilities from the gewog offices as of now. In Samtse, the Dzongkhag Tshogdu decided to talk to the relevant ministry, department, and offices.
Passang Dorji, Samtse
Edited by Kipchu
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