The 20-kilometre road to Pemagatshel that bifurcates from Samdrup Jongkhar-Trashigang highway at Tshelingkhor is narrow and steep with sharp bends. It is in bad condition.
The Department of Roads (DOR) resumed the widening work on December 1 from where it had left last year due to budget shortage.
“We intend to widen at least another three kilometres of road by March,” said Pema Choida, the assistant engineer (AE) of the department’s field office at Pemagatshel. He said that the whole stretch of the highway will ultimately be widened but keeping the work ongoing all the year round was difficult because of fund shortage. “This means we also have to prioritise stretches and sections that require widening.”
This year’s widening work first began on one of the most critical spot between the dzongkhag headquarters and Kherigonpa.
“Although the first priority must have been between the dzong and the oil depot located at Kherigonpa, it was good that the department identified the most critical phase of the road and the widening work began from that particular stretch,” said Tashi, a corporate employee based in the dzongkhag.
Truckers say that they find it difficult when they have to give way to oncoming vehicle. “Other road users feel we are being arrogant but maneuvering loaded trucks on such roads is difficult,” said a trucker who ferries gypsum from Pemagatsel to Samdrupjongkhar.
“The first time I drove to the dzongkhag, a truck hit my car head-on, on a narrow stretch of road. It is very scary,” said a local government official. “It is a good thing for the road widening works to be resuming again.”
People say that the volume of the traffic on this dzongkhag highway merits improvement of the road conditions for safer travel. On an average, about 250 vehicles ply the dzongkhag road daily.