Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

The 45-km Chagzam-Trashiyangtse highway is mostly safe say commuters and residents of Trashiyangtse. However, the stretch between Burbula and Buyang is worse than a farm road, they said.

The stretch is about 4.2 kilometres which they say needs to be blacktopped.

Commuters said that it takes about two hours to reach Trashigang from Trashiyangtse as that stretch of the road is riddled with potholes. If the road is blacktopped, the distance is about one and a half hours drive.

If the entire length of the highway is blacktopped regular commuters say the travelling time to Trashigang could be cut short by one hour.

A taxi driver, Kinley said that road conditions between Chagzam and Koncholing had improved.

“It has shortened the distance and time but there are certain portions that need to be improved,” he said. “It is high time for the concerned agencies to blacktop if not it will only worsen.”

He said that the road after Buyang is narrow and should be widened.

Another taxi driver, Neten Tshering, said, “It is difficult for small cars to ply on the road because Burbula-Buyang road is filled with potholes and is risky during monsoon.”

A regular commuter, Kinzang Wangchuk said that he travels to Trashiyangtse at least four times a week to the dzongkhag administration office for official works.

“We do not understand why the road has been left without a blacktop for so long. When western dzongkhags get blacktop for farm roads, why doesn’t the highway get blacktopped,” he questioned.

Residents said that the Department of Roads (DoR) carries out blacktopping work but it is not continuous and the stretch is getting worse.

“During the election campaign, all political parties and candidates pledged to improve the road to make us happy but they tend to forget once they are elected,” said a resident, Yeshi Dorji.

He said that they felt that they were being neglected for any developmental activities.

A shopkeeper, who wished not to be named, said that most of the people used the Trashiyangtse-Doksum highway for business and to go to the hospital.

“When I first heard the news about the blacktopping of the entire Doksum-Trashiyangtse highway, I was excited,” she said. “But I was disappointed to hear that the road will not be blacktopped as the Kholongchu hydro project has closed.”

An official from the Department of Roads (DoR) said that they would complete blacktopping the 4.2km stretch between Burbula-Buyang if Kholongchu hydro Project did not close.

“We do not have the budget to blacktop the remainder of the Burbula-Buyang stretch road,” said the official. “We are planning to propose a budget in the next financial year. But, we are unsure if the government would approve or not since the government only approved the budget for maintenance works and  resurfacing works.”

He said that for this fiscal it is late to propose the budget.

The blacktopping work of the 45km highway is being conducted stretch-wise based on budget approval. The ongoing blacktopping work on a 5.2km stretch of the highway will be complete by mid-October.