Kharbandi to Pasakha road is considered a vital lifeline for the villagers of Samphelling gewog and residents of Pasakha Industrial Estate. However, currently, the road is in shambles giving commuters a tough time. As hundreds of light and heavy duty vehicles ply through the road, multiple blocks and the unpaved road have become a nightmare for the drivers. The 11km road needs immediate attention for the public and the industrialists as well.
Speaking to the paper, a 47 year old driver said that the condition of the road has led to increased fuel and maintenance costs for vehicles plying the road. Also, he said that dust during winter and slush during summer has shortened the lifespan of his vehicle. He uses his bolero daily on the road. “People hate to drive on this road. But, there is no alternative,” he said. Multiple landslides along the road have eroded the bitumen causing the need for blacktop again. The road is also being used by heavy vehicles for ferrying goods to and from Pasakha Industrial Estate. Almost hundreds of such trucks ply on the road daily.
Although, the Department of Roads (DOR) under South Asian Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) will maintain 1.2km between Bahunijhora and the Bhalujhora bridge, it is yet to be confirmed who will take care of the rest. Additionally, DOR is working on the development of Land Customs Station and multi-cellular box culvert over Bahunijhora landslide.
Critical Bhalujhora is already on the verge of collapse allowing only light vehicles to ply at once. All the medium and heavy vehicles need to cross the river to get across. Drivers say it becomes challenging to cross the river during summer when it swells instantly following heavy downpour. The new bridge is under construction which is expected to take another year to complete. Construction Development Corporation Limited is working on the first package of work on the bridge construction. Resources have been mobilized and the works are well on track. “We hope the government will look into the road condition and take appropriate action,” said a cabbie, Lok Bdr. He uses the road daily to ferry passengers to and fro from Pasakha. He spent Nu 15,000 on his car maintenance recently.
A DOR official said that multiple government and private projects above and below the road has damaged the road which was once in a good condition. The excavated mud and retaining walls along the road has partly deteriorated the road. Today, National Housing Development Corporation Limited is constructing low income housing colony above the road 1km from Kharbandi. Also, SASEC’s projects are under progress.
DOR is yet to procure enough machinery to maintain the road, according to the Chief Engineer, Dorji Wangdi. However, the department has been maintaining the road so far. “Since we lack enough machinery, we are unable to take prompt action especially during summer when rain causes mudslides. Still we try our best,” he said.
Also lack of budget for the maintenance of road projects has stalled most of the road maintenance work for the department. DOR hopes for enough budget in the next plan to execute the maintenance works efficiently. “Then we can provide efficient services if we have enough budget from next plan. We are hoping for it,” said Dorji Wangdi.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing