Connectivity: The people of Gasa have asked Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay to either establish a government bus service or blacktop the road to the dzongkhag.

The request was made during his visit to the gewogs of Khatoed and Khamey, earlier this week.

Despite announcements being made since 2014, the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) has failed to attract a company or individual to start a bus service from Punakha to Gasa.

Khatoed Gup Pema Dorji said the need for a public transport service has been raised at several dzongkhag tshogdus since 2014.

The gup attributed the lack of interest to bad road conditions. The road to Gasa is mostly blocked due to heavy rainfall or landslides in the summer. The dzongkhag often remains cut off during the monsoons.

While Lyonchoen said the government will have to see if its possible to start a government bus service to Gasa, he agreed to improve the 75km road from Punakha to Gasa.

He said the 75km road would be blacktopped in two phases: 35km would be surfaced within 2016 to 2017 while the remaining would be done within 2018.

Gup Pema Dorji said given the difficulties of finding an interested bus company or individual, it is better to develop and pave the road first. If the road condition is good then there may be interest, he added.

Local leaders said taxis charge Nu 600 to 650 per head for the trip from Punakha to Gasa. The actual fare as per RSTA rules should be only Nu 250 but for this amount no taxis will make the trip.

“The worst is while traveling outside the dzongkhag, as there is neither bus service nor taxis available,” said Gup Pema Dorji.

People often choose to walk rather then wait for vehicles to travel outside the dzongkhag but that too is a hurdle considering that Gasa remains wet for about nine months a year, said the local leaders.

Local leaders said the dzongkhag, with a population of 3,000, could be the only one without a public transportation service, and perhaps the only dzongkhag that is still connected with a feeder highway at a time when some gewogs are connected with paved roads.

Dawa Gyelmo