Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

The blocks along the Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway were cleared and the highway opened to traffic at around 1pm yesterday.

The Project DANTAK executed the clearing work until late night on June 18 and early morning yesterday.

More than 20 vehicles were stranded at the block for about two nights.

Poor weather and continuous slide hampered clearing efforts

The stranded commuters said they got stuck at around 3pm on June 17 above Narphung;  more than 20 vehicles were stranded at the block. They were travelling to Samdrupjongkhar from Trashigang.

They said they contacted the relevant officials immediately and were assured that the block would be cleared on the same day.

“But not an excavator arrived and we spent the night in the car without food,” one of the commuters said.

The commuters said the authorities concerned should think about women, children and the sick stranded without food for days.

They said there are also risks of the stranded vehicles getting hit by the falling boulders or being submerged by the landslides. “It would help if the authorities such as the dzongkhag could provide food and accommodation during such situations.”

“It would help if the authorities concerned such as the DANTAK could hire machines from the private sectors and government and deploy excavators with rubber tyres,” a commuter said.

According to sources, the Project DANTAK executed the clearing work but it took almost 24 hours to reach a block at 63 kilometres (km) because the machines cleared all 10 slides between Narphung and 63km.

Owing to the threat to the commuters due to the continuous falling boulders and incessant rain, the Project DANTAK evacuated all the stranded passengers, including the women, children and elderly people to the DANTAK camp and Narphung village at around 11:45pm on June 18.

Sources said that the DANTAK carried out immediate medical check-ups for the needy and provided accommodation; the villagers provided the food while the Project DANTAK catered the breakfast and lunch yesterday.

Chencho Tshering said that the Project DANTAK had been helpful to them as they provided food and medical check-ups because the safety of the stranded passengers is important. He was travelling to Samdrupjongkhar from Trashiyangtse.

“I am thankful to the DANTAK for the timely support and help and also for risking their lives to evacuate the stranded travellers,” he said.