Gewog connectivity (GC) roads were handed over to dzongkhag administration and not to the gups.
Amidst confusion surrounding the ownership of GC roads, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering clarified this during the signing of Annual Performance Agreement between the 20 dzongdags and PM.
After the Department of Roads (DoR) started handing over the roads to the local government, some gups had already signed the handing taking of GC road.
Dzongdas of 20 dzongkhag shared their concern taking over GC road from DoR.
Many said that it would be difficult for the dzongkhag administration to take over the road without technical assistance and budget.
Sarpang Dzongda, Karma Galay said that although DoR had given the budget for blacktopping, the dzongkhag requested DoR’s help due to lack of expertise. “However they denied claiming that they do not take deposit work.”
Deposit works are construction or repairs and maintenance work, where the cost is met from government grants.
Meanwhile, Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) secretary, Thinley Namgay clarified that the cabinet directive stated that if dzongkhags were not able to handle the deposit work, technical backstopping would be provided by the DoR.
An official from GNHC said that they consulted with officials from the Ministry of Work and Human Settlement (MoWHS) and has agreed to hand over the labourers along with GC road to the dzongkhag administration. He also said that if dzongkhags were not able to take care of the GC road, it has the right to hand it over to DoR.
Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering suggested looking for a way forward and said that a middle path would be DoR providing technical support while the budget is with the dzongkhags. “It will be wise if each dzongkhag take care of the few roads than DoR looking after 205 GC roads.”
He said that DoR should not waste their resources on maintaining GC road rather focus on tunneling, connecting national highway with international highways and emphasis on the current road.
“It is not compulsory to hand over the GC road. But I would question decentralisation if LG denies taking it over.”
Meanwhile, Chukha dzongda, Minjur Dorji said that he was interested to take over the road if provided with technical backstopping if required.
Mongar dzongkhag has taken over all the GC roads from DoR as per the instruction from the government.
However, Mongar dzongda, Ugyen Sonam said that except for clearance of minor blockages during monsoon, the dzongkhag did not allocate adequate budget for routine maintenance and major restoration works in the Plan. “We expect possible financial assistance from the government.”
DoR is currently handing over GC roads to the local government (LG) following a directive from the Cabinet.