Villagers want DoR to take over maintenance of the Khotakha connector

Connectivity: Unable to maintain the 26km Khotokha farm road anymore, villagers of Bjena and Rubesa gewogs want the Department of Roads (DoR) to take charge the farm road after eight years its construction.

Villagers are hopeful that if the department takes charge, the road condition would improve drastically benefiting more than 2,000 people of the two gewogs.

The Khotokha farm road is one of the longest farm roads in the country that stretches through Tekizampa to Bajo town.

Since 2007, villagers said they have been contributing labour to maintain the farm road that remains blocked most of the time especially during the monsoon owing to the bad weather conditions.

The Bjena gewog since 2013 has requested DoR to take over the road from the gewog with the hope to improve the condition of the road.

Wangdue dzongdag Sonam Jigme said, following people’s request, health minister Tandin Wangchuk, also their parliament representative and works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, visited the farm road and discussed the issue with people on possibilities to improve the road.

Bjena gewog’s gup Khandu said, with financial support from Natural Resources Development Corporation limited (NRDCL), the gewog handled the maintenance of the farm road.

If improved, gup Khandu said the farm road would benefit more than 2,000 people living in Bjena and Rubesa gewogs, besides Rinchenling shedra, Dolung Goenpai lobdra, Chegang shedra, Khotokha primary school and staff of NRDCL office, forestry office in Khotokha, and the basic health unit.

The issue was also raised at the ninth dzongkhag tshogdu held recently.

Gup Khandu said the road remained heavily blocked especially during monsoon, during which villagers travelled to sell their local agriculture produce. “With the bad road condition, villagers have no choice but to wait till the end of the monsoon to take their agriculture produce to Phuentsholing,” he said.

Every year, the blockade occurs at about eight km of the farm road at Lumsa, according to the gup, which remains muddy and slippery owing to less sunlight and wind the area receives.

Villagers said owing to the bad road condition, only Bolero taxis ply on the farm road upon request and hence the high fare.  Villagers pay Nu 350 per person and Nu 100 per 50kg of potatoes from Khotokha till Tekizampa.

“We’ve to transport our goods in another vehicle from Tekizampa to Bajo that’s more than 15km,” a villager said.

Villagers said good road conditions play a vital role in timely delivery of agriculture produce to consumers. “At the moment, it’s even more difficult to reach the local market due to the high transportation cost,” said a villager.

It takes about five to eight hours from Tekizampa to Khotokha on foot taking the shorter route.

Gup Khandu said the farm road was under Bjena gewog but owing to the length, distance, and bad weather conditions, it has become difficult for the gewog to maintain it every year with limited budget.

As the people of Bjena and Rubesa wait for a response from the government, they are hopeful of a positive outcome.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue