a. Road Transport
The road network remains the primary and most used form of transportation due to our country’s geographical terrain. Recognizing the importance of this infrastructure for ssocio-economic development in terms of access and connectivity, the PDP Government allocated a major proportion of the capital outlay in the 11th Plan amounting to Nu. 26.7 billion for new construction, up-gradation and maintenance of roads, excluding farm roads.
One of the major projects undertaken in the 11th Plan is the 385 km East-West highway widening with a budget of Nu. 6 billion. This landmark project is almost complete with major sections having already been completed. The completed highway will benefit travel, trade, tourism and the economy in general.
In addition, we have also completed the 76km Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway, the 29 km Damchu-Chukha bypass and the 75km road between Haa and Samtse.
The construction of the 80km secondary national highway between Dagapela to Dalbari road is in the advanced stage and will be completed in June 2019.
The PDP government also started the construction works for Southern East-West highway which includes Jomotshangkha to Samrang in Samdrup Jongkhar and Dewathang to Nganglam.
Out of the 205 GC roads, 176 GC roads have been blacktopped representing 85.9% completion rate. Nine GC roads are under construction and with assured funding blacktopping of additional 17 GC roads will commence soon. The only three Gewog Centers that remain without GC road connectivity are Soe, Lingzhi and Lunana largely on account of their remoteness and difficult terrain.
b. Air Transport
The PDP government expanded and improved Paro International Airport to cater to increased international air travel with passengers almost doubling to 314,000 in 2017 up from 182,000 in 2012.
Towards increasing the availability of flights, the government also supported Druk Air to purchase a new Airbus and an ATR aircraft. In parallel, improvements were made to the domestic airports in Bumthang, Gelephu and Yonphula, which saw an increase in domestic air travel from just 970 passengers in 2012 to 12,000 in 2017.
The PDP government launched the Royal Bhutan Helicopter Services (RBHS) with the objective to make helicopter services available to the people and to provide services during medical emergencies and natural disasters and also for tourism purposes. In 2016 and 2017, the RBHS undertook 292 medical evacuations, 10 fire-fighting services, 4 airlifting of relief materials during flood and 65 aerial works. Additionally, a total of 510 chartered flights for tourists, local and highlanders were undertaken.
Further, to facilitate accessibility of the helicopter service by the people in all Dzongkhags, the government has designated and developed 61 helipads across the country. In 2016, the RBHS generated revenue of Nu. 135 million, with a profit turnover of Nu. 64 million. The revenue increased to Nu. 163 million in 2017, resulting in a profit of Nu. 89 million.