Not everyone is happy with the Damchu-Chukha bypass opening. Villagers who have business establishments in Tshimasham and Tshimalakha are now worried.
The Chukha Dzongda, Minjur Dorji, said that the bypass road will have a few negative impacts on the people in the two gewogs. He said, “The hoteliers in Tshimasham who have been depending on buses will now be affected as all the buses will be plying via the bypass.”
In addition, he also said that the villagers in Chapcha and Bjabchog will be affected in terms of transportation of their crops, especially potatoes. “Until now they got hold of trucks from the highway for the transportation, but now they will have to hire vehicles paying an extra amount,” he added.
As for the general shops in the two gewogs, the Dzongda said that their business will not be affected as much by the bypass. He said the shops will continue to have the same old customers. However, he said that the people who sell vegetables and other farm produce by the roadsides have been affected from the very first day of the bypass opening.
He said that the vegetable vendors have requested for business spot allocation along the new road. “We are identifying a new location along the bypass, and soon we will allocate a place for them,” he said.
A 20-year-old vegetable vendor in Tshimasham said she is hardly able to sell any vegetables without commuters plying via the gewogs. “Now that the bypass is opened to traffic, our business is affected. Before we somehow made a good amount in a day, but now we hardly get Nu 500 in a day. We have stopped seeing any vehicle travelling through this highway,” she said.
She is hopeful that she will get a spot to sell vegetables along the new road side.
Jakhum from Chapcha gewog said it is difficult for her to travel to Thimphu or Phuentsholing. “We don’t own a vehicle, and until now, we have been travelling by asking for lifts along the highway. That’s how we have been taking vegetables to the market. Now that every vehicle will travel through the bypass, we will suffer as we will have a hard time doing business,” she added.Dawa Gyem, who runs a grocery shop in Tshimasham, said that though her business won’t be affected as much by the bypass opening, however, she said that the gewog is now completely cut off from the travelers and left in isolation.
Chencho who made her first journey through the bypass said that the experience was wonderful and that they took only 45 minutes to reach Damchu from Chukha, and that too at a normal vehicle speed.
Another commuter, Gyeltshen, who owns and drives a DCM truck, said that the bypass road is broad and smooth which eases the travelling experience. “Earlier, when we travelled via Chapcha with loads, a lot of fuel and time was consumed. Now that the bypass is inaugurated finally, we take just an hour to reach Damchu from Chukha with load. This helps us to save on the fuel and time,” he added.
In addition, he said there is no need to make a night halt in Thimphu as he can return to Phuentsholing after dropping the goods in Thimphu.