Urge travellers to be alert and cautious 

Safety: The Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) and traffic police are cautioning all travellers to be alert of ice forming on roads and to be extra vigilant and cautious at this time of the year.

Ice formation on the roads is more prevalent at high altitude passes like Dochula between Thimphu and Wangdue, Pelela between Wangdue and Trongsa, Yotongla between Trongsa and Bumthang, and Phrumsingla between Bumthang and Mongar on the East-West highway.

Unlike in the past, travellers can now access information on road conditions through social media besides RSTA’s web page.

Authorities warn that the Thimphu-Phuentsholing and Thimphu-Haa highways are also prone to ice formation at different points as some areas receive no sunlight during the day.

A schoolteacher, Nidup who recently drove from Thimphu to Mongar said the roads are not that risky at the moment although ice has formed at certain points. “We have to be careful and drive slowly on such road points as the car could skid,” he said.

RSTA officials said they depute motor vehicle inspectors to access the road conditions when there is a snowfall or when a disaster occurs. They make sure that the roads are safe before allowing any vehicle to continue.

A taxi driver in Bumthang, Sonam said ice on roads resemble the appearance of water, and is a higher risk especially in the night and early mornings.

RSTA’s chief regional transport officer, Prem P Adhikari said RSTA officials carry out pre-departure inspections of passenger busses strictly at this time of the year. “We check the conditions of tires, load limits and number of passengers,” he said, adding that they also brief drivers to drive slow and safe.

Prem P Adhikari said they obtain real time information on road conditions from their employees in the field and instantly upload it online for the people’s benefit. “We also make announcements through the main stream media cautioning the drivers,” he added.

Drivers should be more cautious from December till March as it’s during this time when ice forms on the roads.

Records on accidents caused due to icy roads are unavailable with both the traffic police division and RSTA. The latest accident took place near Dochula last month where two vehicles skidded off road and landed over each other.

Nima Wangdi | Bumthang