Works are still being carried out to clear the roadblock at Bodidrang, about 5kms from Kanglung towards Trashigang.
Heavy rainfall for almost a week in the area caused a major block around 11:40am on August 9. The block was cleared and opened to traffic towards 5pm that day.
However, around 9:30pm of the same day, a massive landslide in the same area washed away some 20ms of the highway. Man and machines from Project DANTAK were deployed from 6:30am yesterday to clear the block.
The Royal Bhutan Police’s (RBP) Facebook page on the eve of the incident notified the public that it would at least take two days to clear the block.
As of 6:30pm yesterday, the road remained closed to traffic despite multiple blasting of the boulders and clearing works. DANTAK officials said that the road would open for small vehicles by late evening yesterday.
The officials, however, said that the large boulders including loose soil and the unstable nature of the hill made it difficult to work. “Given the sheer size of the boulders, blasting is difficult,” said an official. “If the first blasting had been successful, it would have been much easier and the road would have opened by now.”
Meanwhile, several vehicles including two passenger buses (Samdrupjongkhar to Mongar and Samdrupjongkhar to Trashigang) are stranded at the block. While many were seen trans-shifting, some have returned to Kanglung and Trashigang.
A truck driver, Sangay Tashi, said that several blocks along the Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway have caused a problem for the truckers. “Just a few days ago it was at Narphung and today it is here. We are losing money every minute we are stranded in such blocks.”
The 34-year-old said that construction works get delayed when the consignment does not reach on time. “We have to bear the penalties at the end.”
While the truckers shared their frustrations, cabbies did a brisk business trans-shifting passengers. “We are here to help but at the same time it is a business so we cannot give free rides,” said one of the taxi drivers.
Sangay Wangmo, who is visiting her parents in Radhi, said she was happy to find taxi drivers waiting on the other side of the road. “If not for these drivers, I would have been stranded in Kanglung,” she said. “My father is sick and I need to go home immediately.”
Meanwhile, it was learnt that a third blasting was being planned at the site after failing to clear boulders around 7:30pm. Officials said that once the large boulders are down, clearing works would take some two hours.
Younten Tshedup | Kanglung