Roads: People driving the Trongsa-Zhemgang highway may have to bear with the risky road conditions at Dzongkhalum in Trongsa this monsoon. This is because the ongoing road widening work will be completed only by February next year.

Dzongkhalum is about 10km towards Zhemgang.

Unlike the East-West highway widening work, this road remains closed for traffic even during the day. Vehicles queue along the roadsides from both directions waiting for them to be allowed through.

As the traffic opens, vehicles lurch through the rough, narrow and muddy road. A few unlucky ones get stuck in between while the more powerful and lucky ones manage to reach the other side.

People who regularly drove this road said people have had to push vehicles if they got stuck on the way. The road condition is not pliable most of the time. Mud, debris and holes lead to vehicles getting stuck in between.

In some cases passenger buses and trucks along with other vehicles also could not pass the point. The Thimphu-Zhemgang bus and some other DCM trucks returned to Trongsa on the night of April 21 after they could not pass.

Ugyen Norbu from Langthel, who was on his way home said the DCM truck that he was riding in had to return since the rain worsened the road condition at Dzongkhalum that night. “Some vehicles risked it but I did not want to,” Ugyen Norbu said.

Some people also jokingly said they could recite Bazaguru several hundred of times as they drove across this road. “The road is scary,” one traveller said.

A corporate employee in Zhemgang, Pema Samdrup said he got stuck on the way last week when he was driving towards Trongsa. “I saw a boulder rolling down and I had to leave my car and run away,” he said. The boulder did not hit his car.

Mangdechu Hydropower Project’s assistant executive engineer Rinchen Dorji said the road widening work will be completed only by February next year. “Solid rock at that site is making the work even more difficult,” he said.

The work was awarded to the contractor last November and the contract period is for 15 months.

Rinchen Dorji said the road is being widened to transport large electro mechanical equipment for the project.

The road widening is being carried out on an 800m stretch and the width of the road will be 5.5m once complete according to Rinchen Dorji.

Following a review, the road now opens six times a day compared to thrice earlier.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa