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4,544 kilometres of roads in Bhutan
With infrastructure building high on the priority list in many past plans, Bhutan's total motorable road length has increased from 4,007 kilometres to about 4,544.73, including forest road, as of June 2006.

According to a report from the works and human settlement ministry, Chukha dzongkhag has the largest share of the road network with 486.3 kilometres, which is about 10.7 percent of the total road network followed by Thimphu and Mongar with 395. 3 kilometres and 336.3 kilometres.

Gasa dzongkhag has the least road with only 29.5 kilometres of road in the dzongkhag followed by Pema Gatshel with 98.2 kilometres.

There are only about 2,485 kilometres of black topped road network.

If the road network is broken down into highways, district roads, feeder and farm roads, Bhutan has only 1,556 kilometres of National highways accounting for 34 percent of the overall road network. District roads account to 11 percent or 510 kilometres. There are about 1246 kilometres of feeder roads, 525 kilometres of farm roads and 574 kilometres of forest roads.

With the country's population estimated at about 550,000 and regular number of households at 126,115 as of 2005, about 79,500 households lies within half an hour's walking distance from the motorable road. However, there are still about 18,392 households, about 14 percent around the country which are located at more than four hours of walking distance from the nearest motorable road.

The annual report also states that there are about 125 permanent and 110 temporary bridges in the country categorized into 15 different types. Bailey bridges are the most popular bridge in the country with 104 bridges followed by 48 RC T-Beam bridges. The total length of all types of bridges in the country is 6.6 kilometres.

With the government placing high priority on the construction of trail suspension bridges to cut walking distances in the rural areas, 444 suspension bridges were built as of June 2006, according to the report. Samdrup Jongkhar dzongkhag has the highest number of suspension bridge with 43 bridges followed by Trashigang with 38. A record of 131 suspension bridges was built in the Fifth Five Year Plan (1982 to 1987). Fifteen bridges were built in Samtse dzongkhag alone during the Plan period.

Meanwhile, the National housing Development Corporation (NHDC) under the works and human settlement ministry has completed 136 units under the third phase of the housing complex in Chang Jiji in Thimphu, which is ready for allotment. The NHDC would complete 306 units of houses in seven dzongkhags by June this year to address the rising housing shortages in the dzongkhags.

Contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2007


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