Male Iron Rat Year

Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

What had been a bad year for the Jomotshangkha residents in Samdrupjongkhar has ended well.

The drungkhag remained cut off after the border gates were closed in March in response to Covid-19 pandemic. Residents could not travel anywhere as the drungkhag did not have an internal road connection with other parts of the country.

The mountain hazelnut officials travelling to Jomotshangkha had to take a detour about a 15 hours walk via Merak in Trashigang.

However, in the last week of the Year of the Iron Male Rat, the formation cutting for the secondary national highway between Jomotshangkha and Samdrupcholing drungkhags completed.

In a matter of weeks, engineers said that vehicles with four-wheel drive could travel. Once the road is complete, the residents will have a quicker and safer passage to the rest of the country.

The government issued an order to start a bus service between Jomotshangkha and Samdrupjongkhar in December. Residents can travel to Samdrupjongkhar once a week.

Jomotshangkha also appeared in the headlines when a man test positive of the rapid test and the health ministry shut it down for a week as a precaution. Later tests showed that he did not have the virus and the town came out of lockdown.

Samdrupjongkhar also experienced challenges mainly due to the porous border. Police and de-suups on patrol nabbed some smuggling in tobacco, breaching lockdown protocol, and two at a fuel depot in the town were quarantined for buying a chicken brought in illegally.

As trade and commerce suffered, the residents, who are mostly businesspersons, appealed for rent waivers and tax waivers.

As the Year of the Rat drew to a close, Samdrupjongkhar town was reeling under chilli shortage. However, many rural farms made a good profit from vegetable cultivation.

In Pemagatshel, the sudden implementation of a weeklong quarantine for people who leave or enter Nganglam after the first lockdown irked the residents.

The Eastern Covid-19 Coordination Office (ECCO) at Dewathang in Samdrupjongkhar also launched an interim mini dry port (IMDP) at Pelzomthang in Nganglam, Pemagatshel to facilitate smooth import and export. The government invested about Nu 4.27 million for the project.