Smoothening ride to gewogs -SJ

Key messages from Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering’s interactions with rural folks and gewog officials in the ongoing tour in Samdrupjongkhar

Notes_SJ

When pandemic closed all doors for us, we had to make the best of what was possible within. Of the programs we considered during the reprioritisation exercise, one that rested on our mind was the activity that would modify the rural life in strides.

Thus we rolled out the laying of granular sub-base (GSB) for all farm roads. Raw materials and equipment required were available within the country, so we didn’t have to worry about the restrictions on import. We could engage our people and not fall back on foreign workers, which of course was far and rare then. Of all, it had the power to create jobs and stir up the local economy.

Taking stock, with more than 10,000 kilometres of farm roads in the country, a stretch of one kilometre of GSB was estimated at slightly over Nu 1.6 million. Considering the coffer, we decided to go phase wise, starting with one farm road for every gewog.

With the budget of Nu 2.6 billion, the first phase took off in September 2020. Since then, 161 farm roads have been improved and works are underway in 40 gewogs for now.

Today, as I go around in the gewogs of Samdrupjongkhar, where nine out of 11 farms roads are GSB-laid so far, I am happy to learn the merits it has showered upon our people. They say travel time has reduced by almost half, their vehicles see less “wear and tear” and has brought huge convenience in their ride to market with local produce.

In fact, it was exciting to hear some mention that for these reasons, even the hiring fare came down. This, of course has been complicated by the recent hike in fuel price.

But this is just the beginning. With the success of phase one, we are already in the process of rolling out phase two. For accountability, subsequent phases will be awarded to gewogs only upon completion of the preceding farm road.

Needless to mention, importance of well-connected road network is paramount in country’s economic development. Particularly at this juncture, where the pandemic has greatly impacted our livelihood, these are the enabling factors we cannot do without for creating economic opportunities.

As I always share, out of pocket expenses are more for people in the remotest part of the country as compared with those who have better income in urban areas. It is a paradox we must reverse as soon as possible.

We will closely monitor and make sure all the projects are completed in time with desired quality. Alongside, from no-road, to farm road, to GSB laid roads, we will keep striving for advanced means of connectivity in keeping with time and resources as our nation progresses.