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Finding solutions to road problems in Gelephu

Lhakpa Quendren | Gelephu

In an attempt to restore proper road connection between Umling and Tareythang gewogs in Sarpang, efforts are underway to expedite the construction of a permanent bridge over Panchpally stream.

The previous four-meter temporary culvert over the stream was washed away on July 12 due to the recent intense rainfall in the region. Approximately 130 meters of the road on the Tareythang side and 30 meters on the Umling side were washed away by the swollen stream. The stream, which usually covers 30 meters, expanded to about 90 meters.

The executive engineer of the Sarpang region’s surface transport department, Ugyen Dorji said that the construction of the bridge would be executed soon based on the existing design, which was already planned to replace the culvert. “But it requires building additional river bank protections.”

Initially, the feasibility of constructing a bailey bridge was explored. “However, following the assessment by the expert team from the bridge division of the Department of Surface Transport, it was determined to be not possible due to the risk associated with the extensive width,” he said.

Slides block the Gelephu-Zhemgang highway at Boxcut almost every day

“A committee comprising members from the finance ministry and the surface transport department will visit the site at the end of the monsoon season to assess the road conditions,” Ugyen Dorji said.

Meanwhile, following the construction of a bypass a few meters above the previous culvert, the road has opened to traffic. “The water level has reduced. A temporary log bridge has been erected for people’s movement. The excavator will continue to support transportation at the site.”

Panchpally stream, located 18.2km away from Aiebridge (Sershong bridge), had remained closed since July 12 due to a roadblock near Kharkhola.

In addition, the boxcut section, located 15 kilometers from Gelephu town along the Gelephu-Zhemgang highway, reports frequent roadblocks almost every day, especially during the monsoon season.

The government spends an average of about Nu 1.5 million (M) per year for the clearance of the road at boxcut every monsoon season. As of 2019, the government spent Nu 20M on boxcut road clearance work alone.

To address this long-standing issue, Ugyen Dorji said that a survey is being conducted to construct a bypass via the Tshachhu area and the opposite side of the river. “Due to the lack of area for cutting, experts have designed a solution, but that may not solve the issue.”

Every year, about Nu 5M is spent for the clearance of roadblocks in the Sarpang region, including Nu 1M for Aieslip. To protect against landslides and falling boulders, four lines of protective walls have been constructed above the road at Aieslip. 

“Except for gravel erosion, these walls prevented many boulders from endangering the road, and the recent landslides have not caused any damage to them,” Ugyen Dorji said.

Furthermore, approximately 200 meters of walls have been built along the river banks of Mauchhu at Aieslip. “Funds have been allocated in the current financial year to continue constructing these walls,” he said.

Two chain excavators have been deployed at the boxcut, and another excavator has been stationed at Aieslip throughout the monsoon season to keep the road open to traffic.