Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

The Gyalpoizhing- Nganglam highway is closed to traffic as it is blocked in several locations between 35.9km and 44km towards Gyalpoizhing from Nganglam, according to the Department of Road’s (DoR) officials.

However, officials also said that the road would open to traffic within one or two days if the weather improves. “The machines and workers are deployed at the site, but the continuous rain is hampering efforts to clear the blocks,” an official said.

The regional DoR’s chief engineer, Jigme Choidup, said that although there are several blocks reported until 44km from Nganglam towards Gyalpoizhing, they had to stop the clearing works due to the heavy rain and falling boulders.

He said since the site is located at the cliff and rocky areas, it would be challenging and also risky for the workers at the site because of the continuing falling boulders. “There are also no safe places for the workers at site.”

“The frequent roadblocks along the highway could be because of the weak geological terrain with the several cracks and loosened soil,” Jigme Choidup said, adding that they could clear the blocks today if the weather improves. Excavators are at the site.

Meanwhile, the Pemagatshel-Nganglam and Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highways were also closed to traffic as the several roadblocks were reported on July 11.

Jigme Choidup said that although they are carrying out the clearing works at the Phadarri along the Pemagatshel-Nganglam highway, the continuous heavy rain and falling boulders at the site are hampering the clearing efforts.

He said there is a major block at Arong as the landslide washed away the base of the road. Arong is about 30km away from Samdrupjongkhar towards Trashigang.

The chief engineer said they had started the new formation cutting yesterday.  The road is expected to open to traffic within three to four days.

“But it would be better if the commuters would avoid travelling along the highway as there are continuous falling boulders or contact the concerned officials before travelling,” Jigme Choidup said.

The landslide triggered by heavy rain also buried the Gomdar gewog administration office around 1pm on July 11 and destroyed gewog’s electronic items like laptops and tablets, among others. “The officials could not recover anything,” the geowog officials said.  However, no casualties were reported.

Gomdar mangmi, Pema, said the relocation of the gewog office was approved and a survey was conducted recently. “It would be necessary to reconsider the new location to assure the safety in future because the location is just below the existing office,” she said.