Uncertain when block will be cleared

The East-West Highway block near Tsheringmo Drubchu under Tangsibji gewog in Trongsa is still not cleared. Even people can’t walk past the block as huge boulders, the size of two-storey Bhutanese traditional houses have slid onto the road.

The block occurred on the night of April 7.

The contractor, Rinson Construction Pvt Ltd has deployed machines and workers at the site.

Project Manager Sonam Dorji said he is unable to say when the highway will be cleared since the block is massive. “There are huge boulders blocking the road,” Sonam Dorji said, adding that there could be other large boulders hidden under the debris.

He said they used explosives four times yesterday afternoon but it did not have much effect on the boulders since most are already cracked. “Excavators can’t move them either,” he said.

The contractor continued working at the site till 8pm on April 8 and officials said they would keep working around the clock until the block is cleared.

Sonam Dorji said he can’t deploy more excavators due to the narrow road. Excavators work in turns. He said that supply of fuel from Trongsa for the excavators has also become difficult.

Vehicles including passenger buses plying from Bumthang and Trongsa towards Thimphu were stranded in Trongsa. Some vehicles and passenger busses took the Gelephu route while some passenger busses transhipped their passengers onto buses coming from Thimphu. An old foot trail above the block is being used.

It was also reported that there are about 100 vehicles stranded on the eastern portion of the block.

An engineer with the Department of Roads in Trongsa, Nar Bhadur,  said widening work was completed at this location. “Maybe the cliff was disturbed in the process of blasting and cutting earlier,” he said.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa