Trashigang –Samdrup Jongkhar highway is in its worst shape, riddled with potholes and ditches with incessant rainfall and numerous blocks without enough excavators to clear the debris.
Road users complain that the road widening works has for now, worsened the already old and worn out highway. The fallen trees crumble on the road. Although the people engaged in the works are doing everything not to disrupt the traffic flow, people say that logs and other tree debris are left right on the sides of the roads. Commuters get stranded for hours at the block.
The commuters complained that there is serious shortage of excavator as some are out of condition where at times a single excavator is being transported from one place to another for clearing the blocks.
The journey along the highway, starting from Barshong to Kharungla stretching all the way to Melongbrag and Narphu gets precarious due to rain and fog distorting the vision through the worst road conditions.
One of the motorists Tenzin who travels frequently through the highway said that the vehicles get stranded at the block for few hours every day and the machine and labor are unavailable most of the time whereby the motorists and passengers have to clear the debris.
He said that people fear more than eight major blocks that occur every year and the situation is worsening due to road widening works in many parts of the road. The asphalts are also peeling of creating potholes which are filled with water.” He added that when such potholes are brimmed with water, they cannot predict the depth and land up getting bumped really hard.
He pleaded that there is a need for the authorities to respond and react accordingly to such discomfort of the public. “More excavator and labor is needed during the monsoon” he said,
Tshewang Gyamtsho, a tucker shared that the road has really worsened its condition over the years. “The road is now in its worst condition and during the monsoon we even get stranded at the block overnight.” But he said, for a road user like him, he has no option than to keep using the road, in whatever condition it is. “We, the truckers, derive our livelihood by ferrying goods and we need to use roads.
He also said that there is shortage of excavators and during the major blocks; people wait hours to clear the block and reach destinations very late.
Heavy vehicles drivers say such road conditions are not easy to ply on either. Jambay Gyeltshen, a light vehicle driver, shared that he felt no better. “There is no way, one can avoid the potholes, there is literally too many. So, most of the time, he does not even make an effort to dodge the potholes,” he added.
He went on to say that due to road widening works the drainage system was disturbed and the debris has clogged the water where it spills on the road creating potholes and ditches.
It is visible that the road widening works has worsened the road and in many areas landslides and sinking of roads has been triggered by road widening works.
Many road users say that the maintenance cost of their vehicles has doubled due to poor road condition. Those, who used to maintain their vehicles few times in a year, say, it doubled after they use the stretch.
However, works to widen and improve the highway is already in full swing and currently the widening works has reached near melongbrag where bull dozing and excavating of the earth has deteriorated the old and precarious road.
According to the DANTAK official the clearing of blocks on time is affected due to acute shortage of excavators and in many cases the works cannot be performed due to low visibility at the block and incessant rainfall as the boulders fall abruptly.
The work supervisor also said that the excavators breakdown most of the time as most of the machines are old.
However he said that after the full road widening and improvement is completed, it will put an end to the current nightmare of the travelers using the highway.