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Nangar-Ura bypass affects the businesses in Chamkhar town, Bumthang

It has been almost seven years since the Nangar-Ura bypass in Bumthang was completed. The road which is expected to improve connectivity and economic opportunities has rather brought unforeseen challenges to businesses in Chamkhar town. Business owners in Chamkhar say they are facing a dearth of customers as most private vehicles and passenger buses travel along the bypass. Although it cannot be ascertained, if it is the lack of customers or the Bumthang District Administration’s plan to relocate Chamkhar town, a few shops in the town have been forced to shut down their businesses.

The bus terminal at Chamkhar town can accommodate seven buses but only two can be seen at the terminal.

Some of the business owners said about seven passenger buses travelling between the east and Thimphu are halting nights at Nangar of Chumey Gewog.

“All the passenger buses are travelling along the bypass. The government has constructed a huge bus terminal despite the financial constraints.  But today there are no buses except the two local buses. Our hotels and shops have no customers at all,” said Karma DD, a hotelier.

“There are no customers.  The pandemic has affected our business. It has further worsened due to the bypass,” said Dramo, a shopkeeper.

“After people started travelling along the bypass, we lost around 70 per cent of our previous customers,” said Kinley Tshering, another hotelier.

A few taxi drivers also expressed similar views.

“Earlier, we used to earn about Nu 2,000 to 3,000 in a week when the buses arrived here. Now, it is difficult to get even Nu 500 to 600,” said Sangay Dorji, a taxi driver.

But on the other hand, travellers are benefitted as the bypass has reduced travel time.

According to the district administration, the construction of the bypass has been a long-term plan.

And the district administration cannot force people to travel along the old route.

Chamkhar town has over two hundred business entities.

Tashi Yangden, Bumthang

Edited by Tshering Zam