The partially damaged bridge collapsed on July 24 following continuous landslides

Connectivity: A temporary bridge could be constructed over the Dzongkhalum stream in about three months to restore road connectivity, as construction of the same bridge that collapsed on July 24 would take about a year.

Dzongkhalum is 11 kilometres from Trongsa on the way to Zhemgang.

Department of Roads (DoR) officials are exploring measures to restore road connectivity following the formation of a committee to address the roadblock at Dzongkhalum. Led by Trongsa dzongdag Sonam Rinchen, a committee meeting was also held to discuss the issues.

The abutment of the bridge at Dzongkhalum en-route to Zhemgang gave in due to continuous falling of rocks and trees from the landslide triggered by road widening works. The abutment collapsed with bent girders. The bridge sustained  minor damage on the night of July 14 when two boulders that fell off the cliff smashed the old bridge, which was laid right above the existing bridge. One of the four girders (load bearing beams) was slightly bent.

Committee members said the road could be cleared sooner or later but the bridge must be safeguarded, as it will pose serious problems for the highway. They had explored ways to safeguard the bridge by bringing down huge trees that were about to fall from above the bridge. However, as the area above it was unstable, the falling boulders and trees damaged the bridge.

The bridge was constructed and handed over to DoR in 2015 after a trailer carrying crane in 2012 damaged the previous bridge.

DoR officials said it would take them about a year to construct a similar bridge but they can come up with a temporary bridge within three months.

Meanwhile, people living in lower Trongsa usually earn a good amount of income by selling chillies at this time of the year. However, given the roadblocks, the chillies have started rotting, as they remain cut off from the nearby markets like Trongsa town and Zhemgang.

Nima Wangdi | Bumthang