MB Subba

The first snowfall of the season in five dzongkhags yesterday affected public transport services to and from Thimphu.

However, weather conditions are expected to improve from today, according to officials from National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM).

Officials said that transport services to the affected dzongkhags would resume today if the routes become pliable.

The roads to eastern dzongkhags remained closed at the high passes of western and central parts as of yesterday evening.

The director of Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA), Tashi Dawa, said that whether transport services would resume would depend on weather conditions.

In Pictures: Snowfall in Thimphu

The most affected points, which remained closed to traffic, were Thurumshing La on the Mongar-Bumthang highway, Pelela on the Trongsa-Wangdue highway, and Dochula on the Thimphu-Wangdue highway.

NCHM notified that high passes of western, central and eastern parts of the country are expected to receive moderate to heavy snowfall until 30 December.

It added that light to moderate snowfall is likely in western and northern parts of the country during the period. “Rest of the country can expect light to moderate rain.”

An official from NCHM said that weather conditions were expected to return to normalcy from December 31.

He said that Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Gasa and Bumthang, and the higher points of Trongsa received snowfall yesterday.

No major accidents were reported, according to transport officials.

According to the NCHM, Haa received the heaviest snowfall at 24cm thickness, followed by Thimphu, which received snowfall of 9cm.

Public buses were stranded in Bumthang due to the closure of passes.

Unlike in the past, the government did not declare a public holiday in Thimphu yesterday.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) asked employees of government agencies to work from home.

“Public institutions in dzongkhags that are experiencing heavy snowfall today, December 29, are directed to continue to work through the activation of your ‘work-from-home’ protocols,” the PMO notified in the morning.

The PMO stated that agencies providing essential services such as medical must ensure that they were available to the general public while also ensuring the safety of the employees.

“The safety of our people is still of paramount importance today. However, technology today provides the means to work from any location, including one’s home,” the PMO stated.

The agencies were asked to activate the work-from-home protocols that were implemented during the pandemic. “The pandemic has also successfully tested our ability to continue to work from any location.”

Accordingly, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) notified that public services would be uninterrupted.

“All ministries, agencies, and dzongkhags closed due to snowfall, are required to ensure services are active and running by reactivating work-from-home for today,” RCSC notified.