Thursday, April 23, 2015

Roads of Doom? Part IV

Recently I was twiddling my thumbs at the Tekezampa road closure when I was returning from Bumthang, when something struck me:

Why do we need to widen our roads to the size of an airstrip that can accommodate a commercial jetliner?

Has the East-West vehicular traffic increased so much that we need to expand the width of our roads? Has there been some sudden explosion of commercial/manufacturing activities in the East that we need to widen our roads leading to, and from there?

If not, what mammoth vehicles are we planning to ply over the East-West highway that we need to widen the roads, in preparation?

In my view, the roads we have are quite fine for the volume of traffic it has to carry at the moment - except that they are riddled with potholes, poorly paved and maintained. If the government wishes to improve our roads, the way to go is to resurface the existing roads in a much better way and ensure that they are maintained properly. A well-paved road can certainly shorten travel time and improve road travel experience for the tourists and locals alike.

Even if widening of the roads to the size of an airstrip is necessary, for whatever reason, there is a need to do it with better planning and foresight. What is being done currently is a total mess that will imperil our vitally important tourism industry.

I propose:

Stop the road-widening project between Wangdue and Trongsa for the moment.

Complete the ongoing road-widening project between Thimphu and Wangdue, pave it well and resurface it and let the traffic flow without any hindrance. By the way, why is this stretch of road taking so long to complete? It has been going on for nearly a decade since the work started. If a mere 60 KMs of road is going to take us a decade to do, imagine what time will be taken to complete the road from Wangdue to Trongsa - a distance of 130 KMs.

Once the Thimphu-Wangdue segment is completed in all respects, start the Wangdue-Trongsa segment. However, do it in shorter stretches - and not all the way to Trongsa all at once. Undertake no more than 20 KM stretches at one go but employ a number of contractors to work on the stretch all at one time. Complete the stretches in the shortest possible time, resurface is and allow traffic to flow on the completed stretch, unhindered. Then move to the next segment.

Extend the road opening time to atleast one and a half hours - so that people can better time their travel hours.

Simultaneously, work on improving the road condition between Wangdue-Gaylephu and Trongsa-Gaylegphu so that tourist traffic can be diverted.

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