Resource: With four of the five sand quarries in Wangdue closed, truckers have been queuing near the sand-dredging site near Rinchengang for the last seven days.

This, according the truckers ferrying sand, is costing them time and money.

An increase in the water level of the Punatsangchhu forced the Natural Resources Development Corporation Ltd (NRDCL) in Wangdue to close the four sand quarries, and also decrease sand supply from its sand-dredging site.

The sand-dredging site usually supplies between 50 to 60 truckloads of sand a day. This has been reduced to between 25 to 30 truckloads because of an increase in the river level.

When all the five sand quarries are operational, the region supplies between 200 to 300 truckloads daily.

Nar Bahadur, a truck driver said that while truck owners have provided them with expenses to last two days, they have had to stay for more than five days causing them extra expenditure, he said.

Another driver, who wished not to be named, said having to wait for five-six days for a truckload of sand is not just expensive but frustrating. Such problems would not be that severe if the regional office didn’t spare one of the dredging machines for the Basochhu plant, the driver said.

However, NRDCL’s regional manger in Wangdue, Rinchen, said the sand supply this year has increased by more than 22,000 cubic metres compared to 2015. He claimed truckers had to wait for days only recently.

Rinchen also said that of the three dredging machines, one broke down and another was deployed for removal of mud from the poundage at the Basochhu hydropower plant. “We have been using only one machine at present,” he said.

He also explained that when the river level increases during the monsoon, the sand-dredging machines break down. “This slows down the timely supply,” the regional manager said. “Due to such problems the truck drivers were compelled to stay back and wait for days.”

Rinchen is, however, hopeful that they will be able to increase the sand supply once the machine deployed at Basochhu is brought back and when the water level decreases.

He said that to increase the supply, NRDCL is planning to purchase more sand dredging machines. “Each machine costs around Nu 1.7M.”

Meanwhile, the regional manager also said the demand for sand has been increasing every year. Since 2008 the region has supplied 250,000 truckloads of sand as of now.

NRDCL officials said the sand supply increased from 17,000 truckloads in 2009 to 29,000 truckloads in 2015. They supplied 20,500 truckloads of sand in 2016 as of today. “The demand is on rise,” the regional manager said.

The sand extracted using a sand-dredging machine costs Nu 1,938 per truckload (eight cubic metres), while the sand from sand quarries cost Nu 930.

NRDCL officials explained that despite the high rate, the demand for sand extracted using sand-dredging machines is much higher than that from sand quarries, as the sand is free of debris.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue