Nima Wangdi | Sengor

Travellers between Bumthang and Mongar are unhappy with the roadblock timing at Sengor and Yonkala in Mongar.

The road closes from 7am to 11:30am, and from 2pm to 5pm.

The road closing and opening times are displayed on a small portable board. The road is blocked with traffic cones. Drivers and travellers exchange words of agitation.

A traveller who lives in Mongar town said blocking the road for four and half hours is a hassle. “We can understand if the closing time is for two hours at the most.”

He said he reached the roadblock point at 9am and had to wait for two and half hours. People who reached the point at 7am have waited until the opening at 11:30am.”

Tshering Phuntsho, 58, who runs a vegetable shop in Bumthang, collects local vegetables from farmers in Mongar.

He said the timing of road closings has always been a problem for him. “The cold and the frost affect the vegetables in the vehicles, even through the tarpaulin, as I have to wait for hours.”

He said he understands that the road needs to be widened, but the timing should be shortened.

He said there is a hotel near the roadblock point in Sengor, but there isn’t at the Yongkola point. “People go hungry waiting, especially those who don’t travel this road often.”

Sangay Chophel, 51 from Jurmey in Mongar was returning from Thimphu driving an SUV. He dropped a patient off at Thimphu hospital recently.

He said he had to wait for the whole road closing time, even with the patient in the vehicle. “I requested an exception from the officials at the site, but my request was not granted.”

He said that a traveller failing to pass the stretch before 2pm has to wait until 5pm.

The road closes due to the road widening between Bumthang and Mongar.

Chief Engineer of Department of Road (DoR) in Lingmethang, Kinzang Dorji, said the Royal Bhutan Police and Road Safety and Transport Authority decided on the road closing time jointly.

He said vehicles took about two hours to reach the other close point. “The distance between the two road closing points is about 35kms.”

Kinzang Dorji said they decided on the timing looking at the convenience of the passenger buses.  “Buses reach the closing point by this time of the day.”

He said they are supposed to give the contractor eight hours to work every day. “But we were only able to give six hours, even with this arrangement.”