Merak: More than two years after the highlanders of Merak decided to leave their gewog centre (GC) road until Jigmiling, work to stretch it to the gewog centre has now begun.

Jigmiling is about eight kilometres away from proper Merak and takes about three hours on foot to get there.  When construction of the GC road started in 2011, the last government, looking at the prospects of income for the people of Merak through eco-tourism, had recommended that the road stopped at Jigmiling.

The residents were expected to cash in on the porter pony services, which they would provide to visiting tourists.  However, the idea didn’t turn out as expected.

“Only those, who had horses and mules, were able to earn some income, but many were not benefitted,” Merak mangmi, Jurmey, said.

Residents also claimed that they lost almost all the trees in and around the area to outsiders. “It was difficult for us to transport wood without a road, while people from the neighbouring lower gewogs rigorously fell our trees because it was easily accessible to them,” Tshering, a resident, said.

Merak gup, Gaydhen, said people had always wanted a road until the gewog centre, since it would bring about more development in the gewog.

“Unlike the porter pony service, the farm road is going to benefit all 300 households in the gewog,” he said.

The department of roads is constructing the road worth Nu 6.66 million, and currently the formation cutting and drainage workss are being carried out.

“We expect to complete these works by July,” assistant engineer, Ugyen Dorji, said.

The base coursing would be taken up in the next financial year he said.

By Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang