Phub Dem | Sombaykha

Four years ago, Sombaykha and Gakiling, the two remote gewogs of Haa were finally connected to Samtse and Haa with a secondary national highway.

The road from Jyenkana in Samar gewog in Haa up to the Sombaykha dungkhag office is blacktopped and wide.

The road past the office is bumpy with sharp turns, and uneven base course, the road is hardly used in summer.

Locals said that the route was mostly used in winter when Tergola remains frozen.

Three non-Bhutanese men died and 10 workers were injured last year when the Bolero they were travelling in veered off the road near Rangste nye.

Crossing the stream from Rangtse nye becomes unsafe during the monsoon, locals said.

According to Gakiling Gup Gashey, a student was washed away while crossing the stream last year.

Although the road has been there for more than a decade, he said that there still was no bridge. “Without the bridge, we have to climb a steep hill which only bolero and other bigger vehicles can commute.”

“The road gets worst towards Dorokha, Samtse.”

Sombaykha Drungpa, Tsheltrim Dorji said that residents of the two dzongkhags had close trade ties and the road connection had further enhanced the socio-economic relationship.

He said that the road had served as a life-line for the residents of Samtse dzongkhag in the wake of the pandemic despite its condition.

With Phuentsholing declared as a red zone, the dzongkhag procured vegetables and other necessities from Haa, Paro, and Thimphu.

Tsheltrim Dorji said that a team from the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement visited the site to survey and estimate the budget. He said that the team indicated that its construction could begin this winter.

Chief Engineer of Phuentsholing regional office, Karma Dorji, said that it would take time to blacktop the stretch between Rangste from Namchu due to budget constraints.

He said that the budget was used in building a permanent structure along the road. “The road from Namchu Khola to Halhalay in Samtse is blacktopped.”

Besides, there is a need for a bridge in Phusana and Rangste to reach Samtse.

Karma Dorji said that Phusana bridge construction began and the one in Rangtse would begin sooner after the ministry completes the design.

The highway has shortened the distance between Haa and Samtse over 120km, besides connecting the remote gewogs of the two dzongkhags.

With the highway connecting the gewogs, residents of Sangbaykha and Gakiling are operating shops along the road.

The locals sell their livestock products in Haa during summer and cardamom and other vegetables to Samtse and Phuentsholing during winter.