A Maruti Alto car tries to escape from the long queue of traffic near Kheri junction along the Trashigang highway.

Road widening works near the recently inaugurated Lhabab choeten has closed the traffic and driver Dorji Khandu, manages to get through the narrow parallel lane with much difficulty. “There is no use staying for another hour in the heat,” he said as he makes his way back home to Drametse, Mongar.

Dorji Khandu and his wife had missed their 11am appointment at the hospital. “If it wasn’t for the previous block, we could have managed to get here on time. But we were not aware of the roadblock here at Kheri,” he said.

The roadblock that opens during specific timings has stranded vehicles along the roadside on both sides since May 7.

Besides remaining open from 5pm to 8am, the road opens to traffic twice a day for 30 minutes, at 10-10:30 am and 3-3:30pm. It also opens from noon to 1pm.

Road users are, however, not happy with the road closure.

A driver said there should have been an alternative route for the commuters. “Authorities concerned should have planned this properly because closing the main highway is not advisable.”

He said the alternative route officials at the site suggest them to take is not pliable for small vehicles. “It is even difficult for boleros to travel that route because of the rain.”

Officials from the dzongkhag engineering sector said that widening works at the site were required for the safety of the commuters and also for the newly constructed choeten.

According to the engineers, cracks were found on the retaining wall below the choeten during surface exploration at the site. “As the choeten was constructed on filled-up soil, cracks have developed on the retaining wall,” an engineer said. “If the stress from vehicular movements continues, the choeten could be damaged in the near future.”

He said that the dzongkhag administration plans to close vehicular movement from below the choeten. “We will widen the road above the stupa so that two vehicles could comfortably move through the road at the same time.”

The widening works would be completed next month.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the current location of the choeten was found feasible from two other possible sites identified by the dzongkhag.

Retired soldiers constructed the choeten as a part of retired armed forces’ social service project. His Holiness the Je Khenpo consecrated the choeten last year.

 Younten Tshedup | Trashigang