Although road connectivity has drastically improved in recent years with farm roads connecting all the gewogs the south central district of Dagana continues to face numerous transportation problems that worsen in summer.
There are a number of reasons for this, from lack of adequate public service transport, poor condition of the main highway to farm roads blocked for months in summer.
The entire dzongkhag has only one fuel station at Dagapela, which requires people from Dagana to travel at least 80 kms to fuel up.
While there are inter-dzongkhag pubic transport services on alternate days and a five day a week bus service between Dagana and Dagapela there is no service traversing gewog roads that stretch for 60 kms in some gewogs, where most of the population live. Taxis are available but they charge rates that villagers cannot afford such as Nu 800 to travel 12 kms from Tashiding to Dagapela.
Chairperson of Dagana Dzongkhag, Lhawang Dorji, said that, there is a transportation problem in gewogs like Dorona, Lagyab and some part of Khana where minimum of 60 kilometers are farm roads where no vehicles want to travel.
He said, in such conditions people demand for high charges according to the road condition though the official government rate is low.
He also said that, if the goods are not transported at the higher rates, then it leads to delay in gewog works. He said work also gets delayed as most of the time is spent on searching for vehicles at a government rate.
Therefore, he said, “In order to make it more convenient and flexible, I think there is need to revise in transportation rate and give different rates for different roads (blacktopped and farm roads) and this way we will be able to address transportation issue in far away gewogs”, he said.
However, he said that, with the Bolero from government, it was very helpful and benefited the people in many ways as compared to the past when no vehicle wished to travel through such kind of farm roads.
Even though there are taxi facilities in gewogs, he said that, poor people cannot avail the service as they cannot afford the fee. He said that a solution is that they should have more bus services to benefit people in the Dzongkhag.
Dzongkhag Planning Officer Yeshi Pelzang said that the 86 km highway condition between Sunkosh and Dagana is poor but the dzongkhag has no authority on its maintenance. He also said that the dzongkhag administration has proposed two new fuel depots in Dagana and Drujaygang.
“We have access to bus and taxi services in Dagana Dzongkhag whereby they have alternative day bus services for long distances and five days a week local services from Dagapela to Dagana. However, the taxi services are improving and increasing”, he said.
The officer said, “There is need for public transportation after much study. Taxi only travel on hire and there is no pick up and drop services.”
Gup Namgay of Khebisa said his gewog with 2500 people and 214 households is 56 km from Dagana so they have transportations issues mainly for civil servants posted in the gewog. “There is road access to every chiwog but it gets block frequently with landslides,” he said. “Everyone feels that we have road access, but the reality is different.”
He also said that teachers and other civil servants in the gewog say the difficulty allowance they get is meagre compared to the situation that have to put up with. Gup Namgay said that in summer vehicles belonging to teachers of Phaykom school are parked on the Dagachu highway, 9 km from the gewog center. Likewise teachers of Gumla School park their vehicles 32 km from where they stay. Also the 18km stretch from Khebisa to Goshi is so bad only vehicles with four-wheel drive can move on it.
Namgay Wangmo, a teacher of Gumla Primary School said that, in the past year the difficulty allowance was Nu 2000 later revised to Nu 4000. “They paid us Nu 16,000 as a lump-sum amount after revision,” she said. But later it was reduced to Nu 3,000.
“Most of the time, we have to walk for more than two hours and we have had to transport school rations manually,” she said.
Nalaymo from Pokto Chiwog said that transportation was a pain during monsoon. “We have to walk, do our own transportation manually and when need in emergency we never get any vehicle given the poor road conditions,” she said.
This story was made possible due to support from the Department of Information and Media