Ongoing maintenance work on the Gurung Basti section of the Samtse highway has come to a standstill due to a lack of funds.
The Department of Road (DoR) in Phuentsholing disclosed that the allocated budget of Nu. 20 million for last year has been utilized for essential tasks such as constructing cross drainage walls and longitudinal drains.
An official from the department stated, “Currently, there is no resolution on the budget shortfall for the continuation of road maintenance.”
This financial constraint has resulted in an incomplete road maintenance area, impacting the overall condition of the Gurung Basti road.
Ugyen Wangchuk, the bus driver operating the route from Tendu to Thimphu said, “The state of the road is quite poor, causing inconvenience not just for us drivers but also for the passengers. It worsens in the summer due to heavy rain, and although it improves in the winter, it remains quite dusty.”
He went on to mention, “There’s an alternative route that could save us approximately half an hour, but unfortunately, we’re not permitted to use it.”
Pemba, a bus driver in Samtse, expressed dissatisfaction, stating, “The Gurung basti route is highly inconvenient for everyone. Despite our complaints to the Road Safety and Transport Authority, there has been no improvement. The road conditions have remained problematic since I began driving to Samtse after the lockdown.”
He continued, “There’s an alternative direct route, but our access is obstructed by a gate. The municipality suggested that we remove the staircase at the back of our bus to use the route. However, this would be impractical for us, especially when we need to carry loads on the roof of the bus. Additionally, the drainage system installed three months ago is ineffective, as the water still flows down the road.”
As per the information from Samtse Dzongkhag, they stated, “The alternative route falls under urban access road regulations, and heavy vehicles are not permitted for the sake of public safety. However, if the bus doesn’t carry an excessive load, it is allowed access. The road conditions have improved compared to previous years, and we have been urging the DoR to address the issue promptly.”
The unresolved budgetary issues and deteriorating road conditions underscore the pressing need for attention and investment in the maintenance of the Gurung Basti section of the Samtse highway.