Widening work at Yangtse irks commuters

A motor bike tries to escape from the long queue of traffic above Doksum along the Doksum-Trashiyangste highway.

Road widening works along the Doksum-Trashiyangste has closed the traffic and driver Sonam Tobgay manages to get through the narrow parallel lane with much difficulty. “There is no use staying for another more in the heat,” he says making his way back to Bumdeling, Trashiyangtse.

After years of hold up, widening along the Doksum-Yangtse has begun in June last year. But the project has been causing inconveniences both for the commuters and the contractors.

Commuters using the road are frustrated with the road blocks along the highway. As the road remains blocked most of the time, service delivery is affected, say dzongkhag officials.

One dzongkhag official said that since six of the eight gewogs are located south of the Yangtse town, travelling to the gewogs was difficult.

Sangay Zam, a resident from Yangtse, said there were areas where the cliff was freshly excavated and the road below filled with debris. “Getting stuck in such places is a nightmare. And there are boulders hanging dangerously from above.”

Another resident said that at certain sections of the road it was impossible for small vehicles to pass. “Mud slush from waterfalls makes it difficult for us to drive. Summer is the worst,” he said.

Similarly, a taxi driver, Tashi, said that his new car got damaged while ferrying passengers from Trashigang to Trashiyangtse.

He said that patients and pregnant women have difficulties due to several roadblocks and poor road condition. “The road is dusty in winter and muddy and slippery in summer, posing risk both to passengers and drivers.”

Department of Roads (DOR) is implementing the project with financial support from Kholongchu Hydro Energy Limited (KHEL).

DoR officials said that although the work was being carried as per schedule, there were inconveniences to consider. “People come with several emergency excuses and we have to let them pass, stopping our work,” said an official. “This hampers our work.”

Officials said that since people were aware of the roadblocks, people travel only at fixed timings and not many vehicles were stranded at the block.

They said that besides the loose soil and unstable hill, continuous rain has also caused the landslide. “There are also high chances of slides if there is continuous rain,” an official said.

Meanwhile, traffic along the highway is on the rise due to summer break. The widening work is being carried out in three phases from Koncholling to Buyang.

KHEL has released more than Nu 80mn for the widening of the stretch along with Nu 90mn for the construction of three bridges in the area.

Jigme Wangchen from Tashiyangtse