MoWHS to explore possibilities for slope stabilization mitigation strategies at Dechenzam

Blacktop for three intersections near the flyover bridge, Druk school, swimming pool, and the four lane high way will be completed by end of October

Following heavy rainfall last month, the city observed frequent landslides between Dechenzam and Langjopakha. Due to the falling boulders the route was closed at two places and hundreds of passengers were stranded in the roadblock last month.

It caused trouble for the commuters, who had to wait for hours for the roadblocks to clear up.

It is observed that people use the Langjophaka route because of the continuing four-lane road construction between Jungshina and the Bhutan Telecom office in Chubachhu, however frequent blockages causes traffic jams along the already congested road.

According to the Work and Human Settlement Minister Dorji Tshering, the country is experiencing a lot of landslides lately, and a landslide occurs when a soil contains enough water and is unable to withstand its own weight against gravity or the cohesion force among the soil particles.

Lyonpo said that the landslide occurred near the Dechenzam due to soil saturation, however, the only thing they failed to recognize was the risk posed by this slope.

“To a significant part, I can argue that it is not an engineer’s fault; rather, they were unable to foresee. Landslides occur not just in our country but also in other countries, and they are uncontrollable by humans. Because a slope is made up of soil, rock, and various combinations, each slope will have its own characteristics. As a result, it is dependent on the kind of soil and the amount of rock present. Therefore, it is dependent on a number of factors,” Lyonpo said, adding that the landslide occurred along the route in several regions of the country, not just in Dechenzam.

Landslides are particularly common on newly cut slopes. Lyonpo said that the landslides used to happen frequently on the highway from Thimphu to Phuentsholing, for example, when the slope was still new. So, it will take some time to self-stabilize.

“We call it a fresh slope while the slopes are new, but it stabilizes over time. The slope near Dechenzam is rocky, with severely fragmented rocks; nevertheless, we never know how broken the rocks are within, so we have failed to understand. As a result, we’re not taking it easy. We’ll examine what kind of mitigation measures we can use. There are several mitigation options available, but we should choose the most appropriate one,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo added, “Thimphu has a large number of vehicles, thus there is a risk that one slide will hit one or two cars when traffic is heavy. As a result, we’ll conduct a thorough investigation of this slope.”

Meanwhile, Lyonpo said that after closely studying the work progress, by the first week of October, the blacktop for three intersections near the flyover bridge, Druk school, swimming pool, and the four lane high way from Bhutan Telecom to Jungshina will begin, with the blacktop completed by the end of October.

“I see a lot of challenges, but Thromde is working hard to overcome them. Thimphu Thromde is putting in a lot of effort and we’ll make sure everything gets done on time,” Lyonpo said.

The four-lane road project spanning from the road near the Bhutan Telecom Limited head office till Jungshina Bridge was to be completed by the end of May 2021 as per Thromde plans. However, the project could not be completed on the expected time in part due to lockdowns.

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