Yangyel Lhaden 

Frequent landslides along the newly widened road stretch between Langjopakha and Simtokha cause inconvenience to commuters, who are forced to wait hours for roadblock to clear.

Following a heavy rainfall yesterday morning, landslides at two locations closed the road between Dechenzam and Langjopakha and 100s of commuters travelling from North Thimphu got stuck in the roadblock for more than three hours.

With the ongoing four-lane road construction between Jungshina and the Bhutan Telecom office in Chubachhu, many people use the Langjophaka route, but frequent roadblocks cause traffic jam along the already congested road.

Road users said thromde could have notified them about the roadblock so that they could travel when the road was cleared.

Thromde officials, however, said they were clearing the roadblock between Dechenzam and Hotel Riverview when the landslide at the other side occurred.

An official said they were worried which road to clear as there was traffic jam from every direction. “We couldn’t notify the public as our priority was to clear the roadblock.”

Thromde’s chief engineer, Yeshi Wangdi, said they closed the road between Dechenzam and Hotel Riverview and tried to clear the landslide between Langjophaka and Dechenzam.

The area below Zilukha roundabout has become risky for commuters (Photo: Thimphu Thromde)

He said trucks were deployed immediately but procuring chained bucket excavator and operator took time. “The roadblock was cleared by 11am.”

Yeshi Wangdi said landslides occurred because the slope had not stabilised.

He said constructing a retaining wall along the whole stretch was not feasible and they had to wait for the slope to get stabilised. “We are expecting the slope to get stabilised within a year.”

Thromde notified people not to use the old road between Zilukha and Dechenphodrang by 11am yesterday as the roundabout in Zilukha had become risky and might slide anytime due to continuous heavy rainfall.

Commuters said thromde could speed up the construction of the four-lane road in Zilukha so that one road remained open.

A thromde official said blacktopping the four-lane road was not feasible in summer and during rainfall, the four-lane road became muddy even though gravels and soil were laid and rolled over the road.

Yeshi Wangdi said thromde would ensure the road is cleared as soon as there was a landslide. “We will focus on making the road safe along the newly widened road.”

Another landslide occurred a few days ago in Simtokha.

Yeshi Wangdi said thromde constructed retaining wall as drainage was not good. “But the retaining wall also collapsed because of the rain this year.”

Edited by Tashi Dema