Tshering Namgyal  | Mongar

More than 20 trucks have been stranded at the bridge point of Kuri-Gongri after numerous points on the highway was washed away more than a week ago.

They are carrying mostly essential goods and are bound for Mongar, Gyalpoizhing and Trashigang

A few truckers decided to take the alternate route via Pemagatshel on July 17, while few left the trucks and transshipped the goods to come to Mongar.

Some vehicles are also waiting at Yangbari, around 18km from the block and some chose to remain back at Nganglam.

The truckers have been managing with the basic food items they usually carry and from the construction site.

Truckers said they have been surviving on two meals a day.  “Our food stock has exhausted now and we wanted to get out of this place at the earliest.”

A truck driver, Kinzang Tenzin, said shops are far away, so they are seeking help from those at the construction site nearby.

Three trucks laden with grocery items, beer and coca-cola of Mongar town’s one of the prominent grocery shops are stuck in the block. The shop’s owner Pema Zangmo is worried about her shop running out of stock.

“Some items like Dalda and juices are already out of stock.”

She said she never thought the block would last so long and bringing the goods via the alternate route would escalate the cost.

“I am in a dilemma now,” she said.

Truckers accuse Department of Roads (DoR) of not working hard enough.

“Only a small wheel loader has been deployed so far. On top of that, the driver reaches the site after 10am from Yongri, near Gyalpoizhing and leaves the site by 3 to 3.30pm. If that’s how the clearing works are carried out, I don’t think it will finish on early,” a trucker said.

“There were two excavators lying on the other side of bridge belonging to DoR, Nganglam. Since they are under the same department they could have used them as an alternative and finish the work faster,” he said.

A contractor, Karma Wangchuk, whose wall construction work has been affected said all the truckers were struggling and he shared his labourers’ ration. He added that his construction work has been hampered after he was unable to transport materials. He is worried about not meeting the deadline.

Meanwhile, Lingmethang DOR office deployed an excavator on top of the wheel loader, which reached the site on July 17 afternoon.

Lingmethang DoR office’s chief engineer, Karma Rinzin, said there were 10 to 11 blocks on the highway and a lone wheel loader was deployed after the standby payloader malfunctioned.  “It cleared the smaller blocks.”

He said the second major block at the waterfall area would take about three to four hours to clear. The major one is at 300m ahead of waterfall towards the bridge point where the base of the 50m road has been washed away.

“A cutting has to be done and we’re hoping to finish the rebuilding work by next four to five days to open the highway to traffic,” he said.