Chencho Dema

Punakha – For commuters relying on the 8.6-kilometre Bajo-Khuru road, a significant link between Punakha and Wangdue, the completion of this Bhutan-India Development Project last year was a milestone. However, merely one year later, sections of this vital road are crying out for maintenance, causing severe inconvenience for travellers.

The deteriorating conditions are particularly prominent a few metres from the Pema Karpo Hotel, spanning over 100 metres. Deep potholes and thick dust have turned these sections of road into a major headache for those who rely on it.

Given that this road passes through a low-lying area, it is susceptible to damage from rising river levels, especially during the summer months. The Punatshangchhu, just a few metres from the road, poses a flood risk, endangering both road users and nearby properties.

This past summer, the river overflowed, causing traffic disruptions, submerging vehicles, and flooding adjacent properties.

Despite these challenges, many travellers continue to opt for this route because it is approximately 10 kilometres shorter than the alternative via Lobesa.

Designated as a secondary national highway between Wangdue and Punakha, the road’s poor condition becomes particularly evident after passing Pema Karpo hotel, with its enormous potholes turning the journey into an uncomfortable experience, according to drivers.

Cattle wandering onto the road further complicate matters. One driver noted, “Even if the mileage is only 10 km shorter, I prefer taking the old route because at least the road is in decent condition.”

Karma Tenzin, the Chief Engineer with the Department of Surface Transport (DST) office in Lobesa, Punakha, cited budget constraints as the reason for not resurfacing the road this year.

The upgradation and construction work of the Bajo-Khuru Secondary National Highway was completed at a cost of Nu 124.685 million.