Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

The Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway remained closed for traffic yesterday following multiple roadblocks due to the continuous rain for the past few days.

However, the landslides are expected to be cleared and the highway opened to traffic today if the rain subsides.

The Project DANTAK and the Department of Roads (DoR) workers tried to clear the blocks along the highway but continuous rain and bad weather conditions hampered their efforts.

The chief engineer with the regional DoR office in Samdrupjongkhar, Kinzang Wangchuk, said there are numerous minor and about five major blocks at 22 kilometres (km), 39km, 75km, 77km and 83km.

He said the Project DANTAK and the DoR workers cleared the minor blocks but could not clear the major blocks because of continuous slides and falling boulders.

“We’re carrying out the clearing work and would open the highway for traffic if the rain subsides but the situation would become worse if the rain continues today,” Kinzang Wangchuk said.

Meanwhile, the Pemagatshel-Nganglam highway is closed to traffic with several blocks since yesterday. The Tshelinggor-Khothakpa highway was also closed as a landslide washed away the Khothakpa bypass.

The chief engineer said that they were trying to mobilise machinery from State Mining Corporation Limited (SMCL) to clear a new foundation of the road. “We hope the SMCL will help us.”

He said the officials and labourers also evacuated the shops and people near the highway at Tsenkari in Nganglam, Pemagatshel, from the flash flood yesterday. “There were no casualties.”

The commuters said that it would help if project DANTAK workers could continue clearing the block after 5pm. “They do not work after 5pm at present,” commuters said.

Project DANTAK officials said that although they are clearing the block, continuous rain and foggy weather at the site hamper the works.

“It’s also important for us to maintain the safety of the labourers as these are landslide-prone areas,” an official said.