Samtse-Tendu secondary highway maintenance to begin

The Department of Roads (DOR) will start maintaining Samtse-Tendu Secondary National Highway soon. The road from Samtse is in desperate need of immediate attention. The work is expected start from November, according to DOR. 

The 75-km road which passes through ten gewogs of Samtse dzongkhag is currently mostly filled with potholes posing difficulties for commuters. The road has been left unattended to for almost seven years. The road is one of the important lines of connection for the people of these gewogs.

DOR’s Chief Engineer, Dorji Wangdi said that works are ready to start but the department does not get the budget at one go. He said the maintenance work will be carried out once the budget is released. DOR will float contractual works to the private contractors who will then carry out the works.

The road, according to DOR’s Chief Engineer, was damaged by heavy vehicles ferrying overloaded boulders from mines and river beds. The 30mm thick blacktop can withstand only up to 10MT load. But trucks carrying more than 30MT plying the road has wreaked havoc on the road. “The amount of load they carry has deteriorated the road condition,” he said.

DOR, meanwhile will discuss with truck owners, private miners and dredging companies to work together on the maintenance work. If the discussion goes well and the private parties agree, DOR will increase the blacktop thickness by up to 50mm from Samtse till Buduney, a few kilometers. But for the rest, normal blacktopping will be done due to budget constraints.

DOR has estimated that per kilometer road includeing blacktopping, walls and drainages will cost Nu 3.5mn.

The government has earmarked Nu 120mn under National Day Footprint Initiative for widening the highway. Dzongkhag Planning Officer, Tashi said that Nu 26mn has also been allocated for the maintenance of the same road in the 12th Plan. DOR has an approved a budget of Nu 15mn to maintain Samtse-Sibsoo highway.

DOR will work on different packages which will be contracted to private contractors according to budget. “We can offer the works to multiple contractors if the government releases budget on time. It will take around a year to complete the work,” Dorji Wangdi said.

Meanwhile, DOR has handed over the 17.4km road from Tendu to Norgaygang (Bara) after completing maintenance, to the Dzongkhag administration. The work started in 2014 after taking over the work from the dzongkhag.

Meanwhile, people are hopeful about the new road.  Kul Bdr. Gurung from Tendu said that due to poor road condition people do not reach their destination on time. “The road has become similar to farm roads. But we are now happy and excited. It will be a great help,” he said.

Samtse Dzongkhag’s Thrizin Nima Dukpa said that the maintenance of the road would also reduce people’s expenditure on vehicle maintenance. People, mostly villagers, use Boleroes to ply along the road. “After the works start, people will reap the benefits,” he said. 

Krishna Ghalley from Tendu, Samtse