Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

The construction of a fuel depot in Doksum, Trashiyangtse, which was supposed to be complete in 2018, has been stalled.

At the construction site, so far only land was levelled on a 50-decimal area and retaining walls were constructed.  Fuel tanks have rusted.

The delay frustrates the residents.

A businessman, Phuntsho, said a fuel depot in Doksum would not only benefit people of six gewogs but also commuters along the Trashiyangtse-Trashigang highway.

People today travel 27km to Trashigang and about 30km to Trashiyangtse to refuel their vehicles and restock LPG cylinders.

A taxi driver, Sonam Tashi, said travelling to Trashiyangtse was expensive as the journeys consume at least five litres of fuel. “It’s more difficult in summer when roads are blocked on both sides.”

He said they have to travel without a passenger to refuel their vehicle all the way to Trashiyangtse.

Another taxi driver, Truelku, said people were being hampered by the delay in construction.

The 59-year-old said they had been requesting for a fuel depot for a long time. “We were told that the fuel depot would be functional by December 2018. It’s almost four years. We see no progress at all.”

A workshop owner, Norgay, proposed to the trade office and dzongkhag administration to operate a temporary depot but Bhutan Oil Distributor did not allow him.

“With the Kholongchu project, the number of vehicles increases every day and fuel depot has become a necessity,” he said. “People are requesting us for fuel.”

A shopkeeper, who requested anonymity, said they stopped selling fuel after trade officials told them it was illegal. “Since it consumes time and cost, people refuel even if the price is high.”

The general manager for Druk Petroleum Corporation Ltd in Phuentsholing, Pema Wangdi, said Covid-19 restrictions caused the delay. “From our side, everything is ready.”

He said they would operate the fuel depot within two months once the restriction lifts. “We’re waiting for a technical person from the principal company and materials from India.”

He said 50,000 litres of diesel and 20,000 litre petrol tanks would be installed underground at the depot.

Meanwhile, there are 884 vehicles in Trashiyangtse, of which 618 are light vehicles.  With the Kholongchu project gearing up its main phase, the number of vehicles is expected to increase in the dzongkhag.