Works and Human Settlement Minister Dorji Tshering was questioned by the members of the National Assembly on the government’s pledges to renovate, construct and widen roads in the country.
They said that the pledges might remain just as an absurd bluff since they wouldn’t be possible by this year.
Meanwhile, during this session of the Parliament, lack or poor monitoring of roads and related management was strongly pointed out in the Performance Audit Report of the Royal Audit Authority. No improvement in the quality of roads still and taking a lot of time to renovate a road were pointed out as major issues.
The Member of Parliament (MP) from Tashichhoeling constituency, Dil Maya Rai gave an example of the quality of the Chamgang to Simtokha Secondary National Highway.
Although the distance is only 17km, the MP said it takes a lot of time to travel since the quality of the road is bad.
The MP questioned the MoWHS Minister to clarify and inform the House about the measures taken by the ministry to expedite works in the road sector?
Responding to the question, MoWHS Minister Dorji Tshering said that the delay in construction or renovation of roads has always been a major problem and it still is.
The delay in the construction of roads is there because of financial constraints, and when contracts are given to the contractors, there is a lack of laborers and resources, according to the minister.
Lyonpo emphasized on the need to first skill the laborers and contractors so as to complete the works on time. To improve the quality of the works, the government brought a small remedy and that is to add an extra person for evaluation. And also to complete the works on time, if the contractors are able to complete the given works on time, they will be given 10 points. So in one or two years, the government expects to make these changes and hopes that in the future any ruling party shall continue to do the same.
Similarly, the MP from Kengkhar-Weringla constituency, Rinzin Jamtsho said that it has been two years since the government pledged to construct a road at Mongar between Kori Gongri and Sheri Chhu.
“So with no signs of construction, people are worried if the project will be postponed further or if the government will construct the road at all,” the MP said, requesting for an update on the status of the road construction.
Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said, “The government pledged to construct the road two years ago since it is very important and we are working on it; we wouldn’t pledge to the people if we won’t fulfill it. Since we can bring a change, we pledged and we are serving accordingly.”
“The Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been already planned for one year, but the main problem is due to the Kuri Gongri Hydropower Plant as the road should be above 150m from the plant. It is easy to construct the road along the water, but in the future there is a high chance that the road will be washed away,” the minister added.
According to the minister, if the Kuri Gongri project starts, the current suspension bridge will submerge in the water, and the government is not able to bring up a new plan for construction of the bridge; thus the plan is passed to the experts to relocate a location to construct the bridge. Accordingly, the government will be looking for financial support, and though the construction wouldn’t be completed by time, they aim to complete 50% of the work.
The MP from Bardo-Trong constituency, Gyambo Tshering also questioned the MoWHS Minister on the delay in blacktopping of Tingtibi-Goling (4km) bypass road, which is a National Prioritized Highways in the 12th Five Year Plan.
The minister cited financial issue as reason for the delay in blacktopping of the Tingtibi-Goling bypass road,
He added that because of the financial crisis presently, the demand of blacktopping the road cannot be fulfilled.
However, the minister promised to blacktop the road in the future if there are enough finances.
The minister also said that between Tingtibi and Goling there are two other routes to travel from Tingtibi to Panbang with only 3km differences.
Kuenzang Choden from Thimphu