Phub Dem | Paro

After the suspension of import of foreign workers, locals of Haa are engaged in the Damchu-Haa road widening project.

Sharing concerns over increasing Covid-19 cases in India, the national task force temporarily suspended foreign workers import from April this year.

The locals of Uesu and Samer gewogs have taken up the widening project.

Phub Gyem, mother of two who lives in Tshaphel, has been working on the road for three months.

She said that it was difficult to earn from farm due to the short growing season. “The work is not arduous, of course.”

Another resident, Lham, said they could learn construction skills such as soling, cement work, and drainage, which could benefit the community later.

Many residents turned up for the work, as the working environment was convenient for farmers.

Phub Gyem said that after completing their share of work, which is filling up gravel soling for a meter stretch, they could go home and work on the farm.

The monthly salary is Nu 14,790.

Had it not been for the opportunity, Phub Gyem said that the locals would be engaged in daily chores, as they don’t have other work after planting potatoes. “The farmers are free this time, and we are taking advantage of it.”

Pema Wangchuk, 60, from Puduna, said that the salary was less for men than the local charges. However, he said that the involvement was essential as it was their road.

While some take pride in contributing to nation-building during unprecedented times, others say they’re looked down upon.

A local said that people from her village asked her to stop working along the roadside. “Educated people appreciate our work; it is often the illiterates that pass much comments all the time.”

There are 64 Bhutanese working in different stretches along the road.

Project Dantak’s widening and improvement of 50.1km road on the Wanakha-Haa stretch of the Chuzom-Haa road began in 2016.

Edited by Tashi Dema