Tshering Palden 

While there are still a few months before the heavy monsoon rains come and trigger roadblocks, the works and human settlement ministry is preparing to ensure roads remain open at all times.

MoWHS minister, Dorji Tshering said, “We have received instructions that there should be no additional pressure from roadblocks or water shortages on the public.”

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering during a recent press conference said that all ministries were asked to prepare adequate measures in their own sectors in relation to Covid-19.

He said that should the situation continue until monsoon, he has asked the works and human settlement ministry to prepare and ensure that roads remain open at all times.

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said, “Our advantage is that we know the critical areas to focus on and strategise our interventions.”

Heavy monsoon rains mostly start from July and continue until late September, the minister said.

The minister said that machinery would be placed at landslide-prone areas.

“The secretary and roads director would return soon from their tour to Phuentsholing which includes roads inspection as well.”

The minister would be visiting the eastern dzongkhags this week and part of his agenda is to inspect roads, he said.

The minister said the machinery and equipment hiring contracts are renewed annually with hiring agencies mostly the Construction Development Corporation and other private agents who remain ready with machines positioned at locations closer to the slide areas.

The minister, who was a geotechnical expert with the roads department (DoR) before joining politics, said some of the landslide-prone areas like the Rothpazhong slide in Lhuentse, and Khagochen near Dagapela, Dagana did not slide in the past two monsoons.

“They are showing signs of stabilisation such as the growth of vegetation at the slide areas. If they don’t slide during the next two monsoons, then we could confidently say they are stable areas,” the minister said.

He said Ossey area will not bother the commuters along the Gelephu-Trongsa highway as the ministry has diverted the road passing along a stable place.

However, chronic slides like Reotala on the Gelephu-Trongsa highway and similar areas remain under constant vigilance.

Last July, according to the DoR, various locations along 23 primary national highways were blocked due to landslides, falling boulders and flash floods following incessant rain since July 6. Most of the roadblocks were reported in central and eastern parts of the country.

One of the worst affected stretches of national highway was the Trongsa-Gelephu highway with numerous blocks.

Monsoon last year has not only disrupted road transportation but also hit the domestic air services in the country. Five flights to the three domestic airports were cancelled due to bad weather up to July 16.

Continuous snowfall for the two days on the passes caused roadblocks and hampered vehicle movement in some parts of the country this winter. Phrumsengla between Mongar and Bumthang, Chelela pass between Paro and Haa, and Tergola pass between Haa and Sangbaykha remained blocked to traffic.