With the completion of 29.2 km Damchu Chukha bypass road, the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) is revising fares for buses and taxis plying on Damchu-Chukha bypass road, which shall come into effect immediately.
According to RSTA, the existing taxi fare is Nu 16 per km or Nu 4 per km per person and likewise the existing coaster bus fare is Nu 1.29 per km per person.
A RSTA official said, “The existing taxi fare from Thimphu to Phuentsholing is Nu 684 per person and the existing coaster bus fare is Nu 221 per person. Now with the completion of Damchu-Chukha bypass road, the distance between Thimphu and Phuentsholing is reduced by 19.5 km. The new taxi fare will be Nu 606 and the new coaster bus fare will be Nu 195.”
This means that taxi fares for Thimphu to Phuentsholing have been cut by Nu 78 per person while bus fares will be cheaper by Nu 26 per person.
Similarly, there will be fare cuts for those travelling from Paro, Haa, Punakha and Wangdi to Phuentsholing and vice versa.
“However, there are different fares for different routes”, he said.
Even commuters plying on the road can save a lot of money on fuel, the RSTA official said.
An RSTA senior official said, “Light vehicle can give you an average of 10-12 km per liter and for diesel truck, it’s normally 3-4 km per liter. Approximately, light vehicle can save 2.5 liters of fuel and truck can save 8 liters of fuel”.
Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay, during the bypass road inauguration, said the road will bring much positive impact at the national level, especially in terms of economic development.
He said that in terms of fuel savings alone, each truck will be saving 8 liters of diesel per trip which comes to around Nu 500 per trip. Likewise, a light vehicle will save 2.5 liters of fuel or Nu 200 per trip.
It is estimated that about 5,000 vehicles ply on the highway each day. The types of vehicles being 250 trucks and the rest being light vehicles means savings of Nu 315 mn because of the bypass, said the PM.
Lyonchhen said, “No Asian highway is going to be this beautiful and it has come with lots of hard work and with great expense of Nu 2.87 bn.”
Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that the occasion also marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and India. He said that Project Dantak was established in 1961 and their first task was to built the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway. “Their first is still the most iconic work in the social economic development in Bhutan and that is the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway,” Lyonchhen said.
Dantak has built more than 1,600 km of roads and about 100 bridges in addition to construction of schools, colleges and airports.
“The involvement of Project Dantak in Bhutan is a proof of a really strong friendship between the two countries. Damchu-Chukha bypass will bring down the time of travelling from 7 hours of frustrating journey to barely 4 hours,” the PM said.
The construction of 29 km Damchu-Chukha bypass saw numerous unforeseen challenges which involved cutting through the hard rock strata as high as 120m and stabilizing the perpetual sliding strata at numerous places. The construction of the three bridges in close proximity, with virtually no access, made the task even more daunting.
The Damchu-Chukha bypass recieved top priority from the current government with the PM and Lyonpo Dorji Choden conducting regular checks.
In fact, unknown to most, the government even supplied equipment and manpower from the Construction Development Corporation Limited (CDCL) to help DANTAK with a particularly difficult stretch.
The RSTA official said, “The road will also benefit the general public because with the decrease in transportation cost, the price for goods and services are also expected to decrease.”
The RSTA Director General Pemba Wangchuk said, “The completion of the bypass road is a major achievement of the government which is expected to benefit transporters, commuters and also consumers.”
He said, “At the same time, we are also concerned that there might be high incidences of over speeding road accidents because the road is wide and good. We would like to inform the people to drive slowly and take care of themselves.”
The RSTA DG said, “We are revising the fare for buses and taxis plying on Damchu-Chukha highway only and not for the other highways across the country. For that overall fare revision is carried out twice a year, one in January to February and the other in June to July. The revision is done based on the rise or fall of more than five per cent in the overall operating costs which includes fuel cost, vehicle cost, driver’s salary, maintenance cost and others.”
The rates for trucks plying on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway are not under the control of RSTA, but a decrease in transportation costs is expected due to market forces and the eight liters of diesel saved one way.
The construction of the bypass started on 19th March 2010 but the deadline was postponed several times due to various issues.