Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar highway widening and blacktopping project enters 16th year

The road widening and blacktopping project along the Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar highway remains incomplete even after a decade and a half since it began. A portion of the works along the primary national highway is still incomplete despite being in its 16th year. Over 90 percent of the highway has been widened and blacktopped so far.

The blacktopping works on the 25-kilometer stretch of the highway from Wamrong to Tshelinggor started in 2019.

Almost half the distance of the road has been blacktopped recently. However, works on the other half is yet to start. Commuters are upset having to deal with dust in winter and mud in summer.

Tempa Gyeltshen a commuter says the dust issue is quite bearable. “However, in summer, sometimes the road gets blocked for weeks due to falling boulders which leaves the travellers stranded on the highway.”

Likewise Phuntsho Wangmo a resident, of Ngangshing in Pema Gatshel says they are putting up with the dust and, cough and cold has become quite common there. “We would be grateful, if the road is blacktopped as soon as possible.”

“We have to regularly maintain our cars when we have to travel on bad roads as our cars get hit from beneath. The road has remained without blacktop for a long time now. It would benefit us, if they blacktop the road faster,” said Yeshi Dorji, a taxi driver.

Besides the blacktopping works on the eleven kilometer stretch, which are yet to start, some retaining walls and drains are still under construction.

The blacktopping works were awarded to an Indian firm by Project DANTAK but due to the covid pandemic, workers couldn’t enter the country. The firm was then unable to execute the works and the contract was cancelled.

The blacktopping works will now be done by Project DANTAK itself. Works are expected to commence within the next two months.

The slow progress of the project to widen and blacktop the 180-kilometer highway which started in 2007 was also often raised in the National Council. Project DANTAK has been citing lack of manpower, difficult terrain and lack of machinery for the delay.

Sonam Darjay

Edited by Kipchu

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