MoWHS MTR focuses on national highways and unhappy engineers

Noting that the MTR began early, with only two years of the 11th FYP having been completed, in order to commemorate the review of socio-economic and plan development goals with His Majesty the Fourth King’s Birth Anniversary, the progress of the Ministry of Woks and Human Settlement was presented. The trucking hours along the North South Highway was considerably reduced in the past year from 11.5 to 6 hours. The on track project was the road connection between the eastern and western Bhutan.

The Prime Minister emphasized earlier that North East-West highway road be an exemplary highway road in all of Bhutan in the meeting conducted with the contractors last month. The

mid-term review held on Thursday provided an important platform for the identification of issues and to find ways to resolve them. However the south east-west connectivity road is at risk due to dropping or deferring of major road projects. The Dewathang-Nganglam connection was deferred and Lhamoizingkha-Sarpang was dropped. Construction of Gelephu-Panbang and Samrang-Jomotshangkha was not started due to lack of funds.

As for the North East-West Highway, the fund release was late and the works were good in the initial phases. Only 60% which us Nu. 4.636 billion of the total outlay of Nu. 7.284 billion proposed for highway was approved assuming that only about 60% of works would be completed. DOR on the other hand in confident

of completing the work well within the plan recommending that the government arrange the remaining 40% (2.64 8 bn) of the fund.

The road widening works of the north east-west highway stretching from Simtokha to Tashigang started on March 2015. It is expected to be completed within 3 years of its inception.

The road extending from Trashigang to Yadi is handled by Project Dantak. From Yadi to Simtokha it is divided into 45 packages of which 9 are done by the Department of Roads. From the remaining 36 packages, 31 are taken up by the contractors and 5 are yet to be awarded.

The From Simtokha 90 kilimeters of road widening has been completed as of now. This includes the 62 km road from Simtokha to Wangdue Bridge and the rest 28 km is beyond the Wangdue Bridge. The widening till Wangdue Bridge was started even before the inception of the North East-West highway project.

From Tashigang the road widening has been done for 1 km towards Yadi as of July end. From Yadi to Lingmithang the latest report says that about half a kilometer has been widened and 2 to 3 km first cutting is completed. The recent meeting of

the PM with the appointed contractors discussed the quality of the road and that the budget should be put in use properly. The contractors are paid 15 percent extra for construction at night. According to Construction Division Specialist Mr. Lamichaney, “The most common problem for now would be the rainfall or natural factors”. One of the contractors said that the problem they face is the weather fluctuations during the construction of roads and sometimes labor shortage. The road construction is carried out from morning 7p.m till 8a.m. the night time construction is to make sure that the construction does not disturb any traffic or vice versa.

The main issues DOR faces is high turnover of engineers, qualified and experienced engineers leaving the department to join private sectors. These engineers cite number of reasons for their departure like Lack of career path, especially to become executives; Lack of training and other opportunities and in search of a greener pasture. DOR submitted to the government to come up measures most likely to instruct the RCSC to allow civil servants with engineering background to become executives and to allow Diploma engineers to take up the positions of Chief Engineers with few other recommendations.


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