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MoWHS minister answers questions on highways

The works and human settlement, Dorji Choden, answered numerous questions on the widening of the national highways and construction of dzongkhag and gewog roads during parliament’s question hour session this week.

Responding to queries by the Wamrong and Nubi Tangsibji MPs, the minister said the widening of the east west lateral highway will be completed on schedule by June next year.

She said the widening of the 368km East-West highway, estimated to cost Nu 7 billion, began three years ago. So far 65 kms of the Semtokha to Wangdue stretch has been completed and 86 kms of cutting and widening works on the Wangdue to Churserbu road had been completed of which 65 kms had been black topped.

“The delay is mainly in the Chuserbu – Trongsa Nangar stretch and Yadi – Kheri stretch due to the steep geographical terrain, incessant rain in monsoon and extreme cold weather,” the minister said adding that the works would be completed by March next year.

She said that 1.2 km on the 45 km Chuserbu to Trongsa road and formation cutting of 700 meters, from Bjeezam to Trongsa, stills remains to be done. Likewise, 800 meters on 52.6km Trongsa Nangar road remains due to the rocky area. Formation cutting has been done and about 60 percent base course works completed on this stretch.

On the delay in the construction of Chamkhar town road, asked by the Opposition Leader, the minister said there was some delay due to the issue compensation payment to affected individuals and minor revisions in the local area plans.

On whether the southern internal highway would be taken up by the government during its current term, as asked by the Panbang MP, Lyonpo Dorji Choden said the highway was not a pledge made by the current government. “Considering the importance of road in the development of the country and benefits to the people, the construction of the highway was planned with support from Asian Development Bank. Due to security issues along the border in 2015, the construction was deferred,” she said.  She added that the highway was being built stretch by stretch using domestic resources and local contractors.

On North Thimphu MP’s query on the delay in blacktopping of roads in Hejo, Samtelling, Jungshina and Pamtsho areas the minister said that Nu 300 million has been allocated for the construction of seven kms of urban roads, five kms of drainage, 10 kms of electrical duct lines and foot paths, etc., in those areas for which tender had already been floated for the work to be done in 12 months.

On whether the local government could be included in the management and maintenance of gewog centre roads, raised by Dophuchen-Tading MP, the minister said the responsibilities of the Central Government and the Local Governments are clearly outlined. “Although the construction of the gewog center roads have been centrally executed through the Department of Roads, the people in the gewog and the local government are always consulted in the planning, budgeting and construction of the gewog centre roads,” she said. She reiterated that all gewog development plans are carried out in consultation with the local government.

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