Frequent roadblocks in an area in Reutala, which is 35kms away from Zhemgang town towards Trongsa, cause inconvenience to commuters plying the Trongsa-Zhemgang-Gelephu highway.

Falling boulders and landslide keep blocking about 100ms stretch of the road.

Many people travelling to Trongsa, Zhemgang and Gelephu had to return and stay in nearby places because of the block.

The Department of Roads (DoR) deploy a Volvo machine and four men at the site to clear the road every day.

“We have been here for months,” a worker at the site, said. “The slides keep occurring and big boulders block the road.”

It was learnt that keeping the 320m Reutala stretch open to traffic cost the government more than Nu 4.7 million (M) every year on average.

Zhemgang residents claim they were affected by the Reutala block towards Trongsa and Ossey towards Gelephu last monsoon.

“I think we will suffer the same fate next monsoon,” a resident, Tashi, said. “Everyone forgets it in winter and during monsoon, we remain cut-off.”

Some residents say something has to be done either to stabilise the areas or the route changed to avoid the slide.

“At both Ossey and Reutala, there are streams above the road,” another resident, Ugyen, said. “In Reutala, there are many huge boulders that are about to fall on the road. I am scared those boulders drop on some vehicles one day.”

Residents say there is an urgent need of a solution to the Ossey area before monsoon starts.

Panbang’s Member of Parliament, Dorji Wangdi, said if nothing is done during the winter, commuters to Gelephu, Zhemgang, Trongsa and Bumthang have to continue detouring via Nganglam during monsoon, which costs a lot to the people.

“But then Nganglam-Tingtibi road is also prone to landslides in summer,” he said. “Nightmares for the travellers will only compound if a permanent solution is not found.”

The road is filled with potholes and stretches of roads, along with causeways, are still under maintenance.

Road users say just clearing the blocks when it occurs will not resolve the problem and that there have to be sustainable solutions.

“We have been told studies are being conducted at both Reutala and Ossey but nothing is being done now,” Tashi said.

With road condition between Langthel – Trongsa in bad condition, the residents are also unhappy with the delay of the opening of the Rephey-Koshila bypass in Langthel.

The 16kms bypass, constructed since 2012, is supposed to shorten the distance between Trongsa, Zhemgang and Gelephu by about 17kms and save travel time by an hour as travellers will not have to pass through Langthel town.

However, people at the site said two bridges are still under construction.

“Zhemgang is not much developed and with all these problems, I don’t think it will ever develop,” a businesswoman said. “No one seems to be bothered of our plight.”

Tashi Dema  | Zhemgang