Dorokha drungkhag with its three gewogs; Dumtoe, Dorokha and Denchukha, is located 55 km from Samtse. The drungkhag has almost full road connectivity that has helped to ease the mobility of the people. However, the residents are worried about the summer months when the monsoons hit. It is during this time that the road conditions worsen and get disconnected, and people remain cut off for weeks.
According to the Drungkhag Engineer, Kumar Sharma, the road condition needs to be addressed as it becomes challenging during the summer as only the 4-wheel drive vehicles, like the Boleros, can ply through the route. “Having to travel to Denchukha and Dumtoe gewogs from drungkhag is risky and challenging in the summer,” he added.
He said there are chances of roadblocks in unexpected locations along the road due to landslides. It often takes weeks to clear the blocks, leaving the drungkhag cut off from Samtse.
“We are not allocated with any budget – with regard to road as such, but we asked the Department of Roads (DoR) for immediate intervention. They provide us with required machineries and manpower. But sometime it does take time.”
Dorokha Gup Padam Bdr. Rai said that although Dorokha drungkhag has road connectivity (80 percent) easing the hardship faced by the people, however, there are still challenges faced when farmers have to transport their agricultural produce to the market.
“It becomes difficult for the people to travel during the summer. Dumtoe gewog is prone to frequent roadblocks in various places, and even major blocks occur sometime. Dumtoe gewog is 28 km from Dorokha drunkhag and has five chiwogs,” the Dorokha Gup said.
Meanwhile, Dumtoe Gup Damber Singh Rai said, “Though the roads are connected to almost all the chiwogs, however, we face numerous challenges during the summer. Getting disconnected from the drunkhag is kind of a daily routine leaving commuters cut off completely, sometimes for more than a week.”
He added that even during the winter, commuters have difficulty while travelling through GC road due to the lack of base course. The farm roads are also not stable enough to ply on.
He said, “On 23 May, in a place called Salmey under Jarikha chiwog, the base of the farm road itself has been washed away by a flash flood due to heavy rainfall, and along with that seven hump pipes which was installed last year were washed away as well.”
As Dumtoe is the remotest gewog under Dorokha drungkhag, it takes time for the machinery to arrive to clear the block. When it comes to farm road, the Gup said that villagers take the initiative to clear the minor blocks without having to wait for machines. However, when the block is major they need to wait no matter how long it takes.
Likewise, on 25 May, he said that GC road towards Dumtoe gewog got blocked due to two huge falling boulders. He said, “We have reported the block to DoR but no action was taken as of 30 May 2019.”
The boulder so big that even an excavator may not be able to clear the road, he said, adding that the people have been totally cut off from the drungkhag for five days. He said that a budget for road maintenance is being put up in coming financial year.
Mon Maya, a resident in Dorokha, said that though the road connectivity has improved in the past few years, it is still challenging for them during the summer. She said, “We have less number of vehicles in town. During the winter, we can get taxis to travel whenever we need while in summer months, it is difficult due to the poor road condition. There are vehicle owners who will not want to travel even if paid higher than the usual price.”
She said local public transportation buses have not been plying to Samtse in the last few days. “We have to pay Nu 3,500 to travel to Dumtoe in the summer because of the poor road condition, although it’s just 28 km from the drungkhag. And sometime we have to stay disconnected from Samtse for weeks also,” she added.
A shopkeeper, Tshering Choenzom, said the road condition has improved compared to the past years, but nonetheless, more needs to be done as when the road gets blocked, goods have to be transited by hand at the block point. “It can sometimes pose as a threat to lives while transiting the goods due to landslides at the roadblock point,” she said.