Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

After a landslide washed away the base of Pemagatshel-Nganglam highway at three different locations on August 14, the road is expected to open to traffic only after a week.

The road was closed to traffic since last week.

Road officials said continuous heavy rain for a week and unstable geological terrain caused the landslide.

The Department of Road’s (DoR) chief engineer, Kinzang Wangchuk, said there are three major blocks at Thonphu, which is 45kms away from Pemagatshel towards Nganglam, at Yuri, which is 65kms away and at Phadari, which is 85kms.

He said it would take about a week to restore the road’s formation width.

According to the chief engineer, they are trying to complete the restoration work at Thonphu today. “Restoring work at Yuri might take about three days. We might have to construct a 45ms long bailey bridge as it is not possible to have a new formation.”

He said DoR would take about a week to clear the block at Phadari because loose and unstable soil hampers the work progress. “It is also risky to labourers as boulders fall continuously.”

He said they deploy an excavator at Phadari in monsoon to clear the blocks whenever required because the road often gets blocked when it rains. “Loose and unstable geological terrain at Phadari has always been challenging for us.”

Kinzang Wangchuk said he proposed DoR head office in Thimphu to segregate the sections as they face challenges to mobilise staff during such situations because the team are in Covid-19 high-risk areas and the blocks are in low-risk areas.

“I could not go to the sites for inspection and address the issues because I am in a high-risk area. It hampers us in providing services on time during such situations,” he said.

Edited by Tashi Dema