Connectivity: Works are slowly progressing to connect the three chiwogs of Yabrang, Phimsong and Thongrong to the gewog centre at Phongmey in Trashigang.

About 360 households from these chiwogs are separated from the gewog centre by the river Gamri. While the villages are connected by Rangjung-Thrakthri road, there is no road connecting the villages directly with the gewog centre.

Using Rangjung-Thrakthri road however is a detour for the villages, facing the gewog centre from the other side of the river.  Currently, the villagers have to drive through Ranjung and Radi to avail public services.

Otherwise, there is only a track between the villages and the gewog and a suspension bridge to cross over.

But the works and human settlement ministry has worked out a temporary solution after the villagers raised the need for a road and bridge when Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay visited the gewog.

The ministry has approved a construction of a 4.7km road to the river  from both gewog and the villages. For a bridge, the gewog has been asked to wait until the Gamri hydropower project is finalised.

Meanwhile, when the water level of the Gamri recedes during the winter, villagers will be able to construct a temporary bridge. The survey works for road construction is complete.

Phongmey gup, Palden Dorji said the upcoming road would immensely benefit villagers on the other side of the river.

“Otherwise, it becomes difficult for villagers to seek services from the gewog centre,” he said. “Villagers prefer driving for two to three hours via Rangjung to get here.”

He said the construction of a bridge is not included in the gewog’s 11th Plan activities.

“After Lyonchoen’s visit, villagers were expecting that infrastructure would arrive soon. If things are delayed with the Gamri project, the bridge will be our priority activity in the next Plan,” he said.

Yabrang Tshogpa Samten said it normally takes about fours hours to reach the gewog centre on foot.

“We depend on agriculture and livestock activities for livelihood. Hence, it is difficult for villagers to seek renewable natural resources services in particular,” he said. “Moreover, it takes time for extension agents to intervene when our crops are infected. Routine services are most affected.”

Given the problem, Samten said that villagers had raised the need for a separate centre for the three chiwogs to be established at Yabrang but to no avail.

“When some existing RNR centers are non-operational for want of staff, there is no possibility of getting one in Yabrang. Hence, a bridge is the only solution,” he said.

Meanwhile, without a single green house in Phongmey, the government would be providing two green houses to the gewog. The agriculture ministry has incorporated the activity in its annual grant proposal for the financial year 2016 – 2017.

 Tshering Wangdi | Trashigang