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East-West Highway works likely to spillover

Based on the progress of the Northern East-West Highway construction, about four contract packages of the 39 will spillover into the 12th Plan.

Works and human settlement secretary, Phuntsho Wangdi, said about 15 percent of the works could spillover. “We will be able to complete at the most 85 percent of the works within this Plan,” he said.

Initially, the plan was to complete 60 percent of the works in the current Plan and remaining 40 percent in the 12th Plan. However, the secretary said that the government had pushed to complete all works within this Plan and moved about 20 percent of the estimated spillover to the current Plan.

The earlier estimate of 60 percent of works was worth Nu 4B. However, the government has already received Nu 5.89B. While the final cost comes to about Nu 7B, the ministry is expecting an offload of Nu 1.6B to the next Plan.

Most of those works that are likely to spillover are from Trongsa region.

However, he said that the overall assessment reveals due diligence to technical specification and quality on the part of contractors. “Four packages out of 39 should be acceptable,” he said.

He added that contractors have been doing better than before. The ministry’s technical monitoring team conducts regular monitoring and inspections like drilling and on availability of equipment on site. “Contractors are aware of this and no compromise on the quality has been made,” he said. “In fact the contractor has been building roads which are few millimeters thicker than the specified.”

This, the secretary said is because the contractor will have to redo the whole work if the specification is not met and the liability period is raised from one to three years. “Government has done quite a job in ensuring quality and it is a success,” he said.

On the works that are likely to spillover, Phuntsho Wangdi said that inspection has been conducted and the main problem was lack of machine operators. “They have the equipment but there was difficulty in getting operators and even if they had operators, there were issues of mismanaging the fuel bill,” he said.

He also said that the working duration got shortened with unpredictable climate. “Monsoon is instantly followed by winter today, we hardly experience spring and autumn these days,” he said adding that these factors reduce the working season.

The East-West Highway package includes 385km of which Project Dantak was given 52km from Yadi to Trashigang. The final cost is estimated at Nu 7.284B.

Tshering Dorji

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