The much-awaited Dagapela-Dalbari secondary national highway in Dagana is likely to be behind schedule again by almost a year.
The Project Coordinator, Pema Thinley said that around 20km of road is cut through a Bharange cliff which has hampered the work progress. The company has been provided deadline extension of the work. “We have tried our best but it is very difficult to work there,” he said. Around 75% of the work on the cliff is so far complete. The work on formation cutting at the cliff which is around 30m is still ongoing. Druk Lhayul Construction Company is working on the formation cutting. The work was supposed to be complete by December 2019.
Pema Thinley said that the work however is in full swing now. It is expected to complete by June this year.
The road has been temporarily diverted from a bypass which is near the cliff. Currently, DOR allows commuters to use the around two kilometers of bypass only during emergencies. However, only light vehicles can pass through the bypass which is not blacktopped.
Of 80.58km, more than 50% of the road is blacktopped so far. Twenty nine kilometers from Dalbari till Odalthang is complete from the lower front. Also, 21km from Dagapela side is blacktopped from the upper front. Around 30km stretch in between is yet to be blacktopped.
The road, which passes through the five gewogs of Tsendagang, Gozhi, Dorona, Gesarling and Karmaling in Dagana is now scheduled for completion by June 2020.
However, around nine kilometer stretch from Dalbari to Kalikhola has been left unattended.
The construction resumed in March 2017 after it was stopped for almost two years and around 60% of the works that include formation cutting, the laying of base course and the construction of retaining walls and drains along the road had been completed as of April 2018.
Around 75% of the project is complete, according to Pema Thinley.
The Netherlands government under its ORIO project and the government are funding the construction, which is estimated to cost Nu 1.4bn.
Of the project with three packages – A, B and C, the ACC asked the government to re-tender two of the three packages, Package B and C, following their investigation. It was done accordingly and the two packages of B and C were then divided into four packages.
The road will benefit the people of Dagana and Tsirang once complete, minimize time travel to Phuentsholing and bring development in the five gewogs of Dagana.
Meanwhile, Dagana residents still awaits the formal opening of the highway. Pema Sherpa, a villager of Karmaling gewog said that the villagers have been waiting for the road to complete and open for the traffic. “It would help us a lot,” he said. It will take two days for the Lhamoizhingkha’s people to reach to their dzongkhag headquarter. They either route through Gelephu or through Phuentsholing and Thimphu using Indian highway. Using both the routes takes two days to reach Dagapela.
Kharka Prasad Basnet, another villager from Karmaling said that the road people are struggling without direct access road to Dagapela. “We are still hopeful for the road to open for traffic soon,” he said.
The secondary national highway is expected to enhance economic efficiency and competitiveness of the export industry by providing faster and more reliable freight movement in Dagana and Tsirang dzongkhag.
Krishna Ghalley from Dagapela