After the excavation works started to build a fuel depot in Kanglung, Trashigang early this year, the area in Mertsham today remains covered in stagnated rainwater and overgrowth.
The gewog’s first fuel depot was supposed to be completed by June this year but no progress has been made at the location except for excavation works and transporting the fuel tanks.
A local resident, Wangmo, said that with the delay, people are growing impatient as they have to travel about 25km to refuel their vehicles and avail liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene.
“We were told that the fuel depot would be completed by mid this year. It’s almost the end of the year and we see no progress at all,” she said.
Another resident, Khandu, said their hope of having a fuel station in the gewog might not come through.
He said it could have been dropped since it was an initiative of the former government.
The 57-year-old said that irrespective of who forms the government, people should not suffer.
“We are suffering today as we have to travel all the way to Trashigang to get the fuel,” he said. “I hope the concerned agencies would work on it soon because a fuel station has become a necessity in the gewog.”
The delay has enabled some of the shopkeepers along the Yonphula-Kanglung highway to illegally sell fuel from their shops.
“We have to sell because the public especially farmers using power chains and small utility vehicles request us,” said a shopkeeper who requested anonymity. “Because we travel to Trashigang for business, people come and request us if we can provide them the service here.”
The shopkeeper charges an additional Nu 5 to Nu 6 on a liter of fuel she sells. “Even in fear we do this because of the little profit we get,” she said. “I hope the fuel station is constructed sooner so that I don’t have to fear any new face who visits my shop.”
Sangay, a corporate employee said that travelling to Trashigang for a refuel was expensive as the journey consumes at least 10 litres of fuel. “Although a bit expensive, it was sensible to buy the fuel from the shops here then to travel all the way to Trashigang.”
Regional manager with Bhutan Oil Distributors (BOD) and Bhutan Oil Corporation (BOC) in Samdrupjongkhar, Dendup Tshering, said the depot was supposed to be completed by next month.
He said the delay on the part of the Indian counterpart, the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) in tendering the works has halted the works.
“Our job is to develop the site, which has already been done. The installation of the fuel tanks has to be carried out by the experts and workers of the IOCL,” said Dendup Tshering.
He said the IOCL submitted the layout plans of the depot about two months ago and the BOC is waiting for the experts and labourers to execute the work.
Once it starts, the regional manager said it would take about a month to complete the installation of the fuel tanks and about five more months to construct the LPG store and office.
“We cannot say when the works would begin because we are also waiting for the IOCL to send us the manpower,” he added.
A 20,000-litre petrol and diesel tanks would be installed at the depot, which would cost around Nu 8 million (M). An additional Nu 5M would be incurred in the construction of the office and LPG store.
The depot is located at Mertsham, about 4km from Kanglung towards Yonphula.
Younten Tshedup | Kanglung