Business not as usual in Wamrong town

Hotel and restaurants have been drastically affected after the new Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway opened to traffic in May last year

Business of hotels and restaurants at Wamrong town in Trashigang has shrunk after the 77-kilometer Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway was opened to traffic in May last year.

Restaurants and hotels in Wamrong that cater to public transport buses and other vehicles plying the old highway say business has dried up after the highway opened.

Not only hotels and restaurants, grocery shop owners and workshop owners have also been affected as the vehicles now ply through the new highway.

Meanwhile, Wamrong is about 80km away from Trashigang and the 180km old highway from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar pass through Wamrong town.

The new highway that opened in May last year has also shortened the distance between Phuentsholing and Mongar by more than 220km.

A hotelier in Wamrong said his income last year had decreased by over 50% because of the new highway.

Almost all businessmen in Wamrong share a similar concern.

The owner of Dhan Maya Restaurant in Wamrong said with the opening of the new highway, people travelling to Phuentsholing from the eastern dzongkhags have stopped coming from the old highway.

She said only a few people travel through the old highway.

Another hotel owner, Sonam said people from Mongar, Trashiyangtse, Lhuentse and Trashigang travelling to Samdrup Jongkhar and Phuentsholing initially stopped at Wamrong.

“Though the new highway has benefited the people at large, it has affected businesses along the old highway at Wamrong,” he said. “Now people travelling to Phuentsholing from the eastern dzongkhags travel directly using the Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway as it has shortened the distance.”

Sonam said he earned Nu 33,000 a month earlier and it has dropped just to Nu 10,000 after the new highway opened.

Meanwhile, Wamrong town initially started with motels for businessmen plying along the Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar highway in the late 1980s.

Almost a decade after a fire incident gutted 12 shops and residential houses in Wamrong, the town was once again becoming a booming business hub.

An elderly man from Wamrong said people earlier travelling between Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar used to spend a night in Wamrong. “With the opening of the new highway, the traffic along the old highway has drastically decreased,” he added.

Jigme Wangchen from Wamrong