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Connectivity: The alternate route on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway through Pasakha, was re-opened to traffic yesterday afternoon after a major landslide on the morning of October 1 blocked the route to traffic.

Hundreds of trucks coming to Phuentsholing from Thimphu and other places were stranded at Rangeytoong during the block.

The condition of the Pasakha bypass has left private truck owners and drivers irked. This bypass road has numerous potholes and makes the trip challenging and time consuming.

An oil-tanker driver and owner, Choki Gyeltshen said that the Pasakha route was risky for oil tankers. “Tankers cannot be moved or pushed like other trucks,” he said. “Tankers are delicate.”

Choki Gyeltshen also said that the road is muddy and boulders keep falling at several places.

After heavy rains damaged the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway at Kamji in July this year, heavy trucks have been using the Pasakha bypass.

Only passenger busses, and small and medium vehicles are allowed to use the bailey bridge at Kamji. Passengers have to get out and walk across the bridge in order to avoid straining the bailey bridge.

However, truckers said certain trucks are allowed to pass over the Kamji bridge, while private trucks are not allowed.

Karma, another trucker, said that it is time the main highway is opened to all vehicles. “Although we understand relevant agencies are doing everything they can, I saw only a few workers at the Kamji site,” he said. He added this may delay reopening of the area to all traffic.

Relevant agencies, Karma said, must investigate properly and expedite the work to open the road.

Stranded for two nights, a potato farmer from Phobjikha, Nima was worried about his produce getting spoiled.

“Potatoes get spoiled in such conditions,” he said, referring to the heat. Nima brought 140 bags of potatoes from Phobjikha. He was also worried that more payments would have to be made to the vehicle owner.

Truckers plying over this alternative road are also upset that shops along the highway were asked to close a few days ago. Truckers said they did not have proper place to eat or rest while travelling.

A truckers committee member said that the government must look into this issue as soon as possible.

The committee member also pointed out that trucks that use the road ferry important items such as oil and cooking gas. If the road cannot be maintained, the government should allow all traffic to pass through at Kamji, the member said.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

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