…landslides hamper clearing efforts

 Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

The Department of Roads (DoR) officials are currently unable to estimate when the roadblock at Namling on the Mongar-Bumthang highway can be cleared and the road opened to traffic, due to continuous soil and rockslides.

“The active mass sliding is hampering the progress of the work,” a DoR official said.

Initially, officials aimed to clear the blockage in about three days. Officials from the DoR’s regional office in Lingmethang, Mongar, said active mass slides have been triggered by a continuous downpour in the area that has slowed work from both sides of the highway.

However, officials said the DoR is exploring means to expedite the work.

A massive landslide occurred on the evening of October 14, taking out 300 metres of the road and blocking the road at Namling, about 2.5 kilometres from the national workforce labour camp area towards Mongar.

Commuters in hundreds of vehicles, including public transport buses, returned to Bumthang and Mongar, while some continued their journey, changing vehicles.

The Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) office also facilitated the one-time access of 15 public transport buses to and from Thimphu via Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam national highway through Panbang to Trongsa. 

The officials installed escorts and GPS in the vehicles, as they had to pass through the Covid-19 high-risk areas between Tshobaley in Nganglam and Ringdibi in Panbang.

Meanwhile, the RSTA has temporarily suspended public transport buses on the east-west highway until further notice.

Private vehicles need to seek approval from the Covid-19 taskforces of Nganglam and Panbang drungkhags and follow protocols if they wish to travel via this route.