Requests govt. agencies to hold meetings in other places

Phuentsholing thromde (PT) has appealed to the government to intervene by requesting organisations to conduct workshops, seminars, and conferences in other parts of the country during winter.

This is to ease traffic congestion in the country’s commercial hub in winter, as most organisations hold workshops, seminars, and annual conferences in Phuentsholing every winter. Along with official events, people flocking in for pilgrimages and shopping and the ongoing constructions cause major traffic congestions every winter.

The thromde’s executive secretary, Wangchuk Thaye, said that both the government and private agencies are attracted to conduct events in Phuentsholing due to favourable weather condition. “We have requested the government informally,” he said.

He reasoned that diverting the government meetings and conferences to other places in the country would help reduce traffic congestion.

In January 2017, when the government distributed 205 gewog utility vehicles to the gups at their annual conference, the town saw a heavy flow of vehicles and congestion.

Phuentsholing thrompon, Uttar Kumar Rai, said that while they do not want to stop agencies from conducting events in Phuentsholing, they are making organisers aware of the situation.

The thromde, as a measure to address traffic congestion, opened an alternative route at the confluence of Amochhu and Omchhu. Traffic police are also guiding pedestrians to help the traffic flow.

However, the construction of multi-layer car parking, three-storied vegetable market house, and a mini-dry port are the ongoing projects that increase vehicle movements.

The thrompon said that the route is closed for multi-layer parking. The construction of the Northern Bypass has also started, which is likely to disturb traffic at some point, according to thromde officials.

The Amochhu land reclamation and township project (ALRTP) that was supposed to start October could also start anytime.

Meanwhile, records with the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) in Phuentsholing show that there are more than 31,475 vehicles registered until August this year under Phuentsholing region that comprises Chukha and Samtse dzongkhags.

RSTA regional transport officer (RTO), Karchung, said that while there is no traffic congestion in the Phuentsholing core town area, there is congestion in the border. “In winter, it worsens as vehicles queue towards Jaigaon.”

Although there are industrial trucks and other private trucks that queue up, private cars going to Jaigaon also increase in winter causing traffic congestion on either side.

RTO Karchung said that a study RSTA conducted showed that about 1,000 vehicles from across the border move into Phuentsholing every day. “This is just between 9am and 5pm,” he said.

He said that lifting of boulders for export from Amochhu embankment has started, adding at least 50 trucks every day. “Orange season will begin soon.”

A businessman, Sonam Penjor, said that the second gate has helped ease traffic congestion until now but the case would be different in winter. “People come to Phuentsholing in winter,” he said. “Congestion across the border also adds to overcrowding.”

A representative with the truckers’ committee, BB Tamang, also said traffic jam across the border in Jaigaon causes congestion in Phuentsholing. “Even parking fee collectors cause a problem as they stop moving vehicles in town,” he said.

He said that trucks and trailers carrying construction materials should be timed properly.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing