…the road conditions have worsened after the road widening began

Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Travellers along Namling stretch on the Mongar-Bumthang highway face increased risks from frequent landslides. 

It has been about a month now that massive landslides have frequently blocked the highway at Namling and other nearby locations.     

This is the second time the stretch has experienced such a prolonged roadblock after the one in October last year that lasted for a month hampering the regular traffic. 

Officials from the Department of Road (DOR) regional office in Lingmethang said there are around five major frequently sliding areas. 

Chief Engineer Kinzang Dorji said the unstable rocky area between Latongla and Yongkola further loosened by ongoing widening work has caused frequent slides. 

He said the situation is further aggravated by the continuous rainfall in the area.

He said, if the situation doesn’t improve the highway might be closed for some time. “And the traffic bypassed via the Panbang-Nganglam highway.”

“We’re planning a meeting to discuss with the stakeholders and if mutual consensus could be reached we would implement it soon.”

According to him, this is mainly because of the tremendous risks it has on the travellers as the rocks are fractured and ready to fall at any time.  The continuous rain also hampers the situation.   

The regional DoR office has started widening works between Yongkola and Sengor by mid-March and started implementing summer road closing and opening schedules.  

The highway closes at 7am to 11.30am and 1:30pm to 6pm.  

Meanwhile, passengers travelling along the highway complain about having to wait for long hours if they failed to arrive within two hours of opening time.

“It’s really a torture to wait for several hours if we can’t make it on time and even if late by a minute,” said Choki, who recently travelled from Thimphu.

“It would be much more convenient to the commuters if the road is opened after every two hours as usually practised in other road widening areas,” said the passenger who claimed to have waited for four hours.

Meanwhile, Kinzang Dorji, said the timing has been set convenient and coinciding with the arrival time of the passenger buses following the meeting with the stakeholders from traffic police and road safety and transport office.