Information and communications minister, Karma Donnen Wangdi, has said that a four-kilometre bypass would be constructed at Ossey, a slide-prone area on the Gelephu-Zhemgang highway in the 12th Plan.

He said this while responding to a question from Dragteng Langthel Member of Parliament (MP) Gyem Dorji on January 18.

Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi said he was in constant contact with the Sarpang dzongdag so that the bypass could be constructed.

“The plan is ready. The work will start as soon as the budget is released,” he said.

“I am aware of the problem people are facing because of frequent landslides at those points. The landslides have mainly affected the people from Trongsa, Sarpang and Bumthang,” he said, adding that the problem would be solved soon.

He said that the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) have been assessing the roads for the safety of travellers. He said signboards have been put up to make the people aware of the risks.

MP Gyem Dorji also said that frequent landslides at Reutala on the Zhemgang-Trongsa highway have also affected travellers and that the government has to find a solution to the problem.

He said that it was important for the government to have well-maintained highways. “Landslides at Ossey and Reutala need to be solved,” he said, adding that falling boulders pose risk to commuters.

The MP also said that transportation of cash crops like oranges and cardamom has been affected by the bad road condition.

However, the minister said that studies conducted by experts showed that it was not feasible to construct a new bypass road at Reutala. “The government would continue to provide support in maintaining the roads and keeping it open for traffic,” he said.

The Gelephu-Zhemgang highway remained closed to traffic for about one and half months last year. The road opened to traffic on October 16 last year.

Ossey is about 27 kilometres away from Gelephu town.

MB Subba