Restaurants and hotels business in Tsimasham that cater to public transport buses and other vehicles plying the old highway has dried up after the Damchu-Chukha bypass commenced on July 18.
While some restaurants opened late, some were closed yesterday.
Karma Hotel, one of the most active hotels in Tsimasham that catered to passenger buses remained closed.
Its owner, Namgay said all staff was set off for a vacation.
“In a way it is good,” he said.
Not only hotels and restaurants, Namgay said all business entities in Tsimasham would be affected as the vehicles now ply the new highway. Hotels and restaurants would not buy from grocery shops and they would also be hit, he said.
Tsimasham is about 97km from Phuentsholing. The 180km old highway goes through Tsimasham and Chapcha to reach Damchu.
With the 29.2km Damchu-Chukha double-lane bypass road opened to traffic, a distance of 19.5km is shortened and travel time of more than an hour.
Although it is too late, some Tsimasham residents feel that Tsimasham would not have had to face the current situation. Some pointed out that an existing four km road from Tsimasham that connects at Chukha dam site area along the new highway could have been used and Tsimasham connected.
“In doing so, there was no need to travel through Chapcha,” Namgay said, adding there would have just been a difference of four extra km. “There was also no need to cut through the hard rock near Chukha.”
The businessman said it should be a lesson in the future.
Meanwhile, the dearth of business along the old highway at Tsimasham has not deterred hotel owners. They have already started to construct huts and buildings on the new highway to cater to the passenger busses.
Kuensel met Rinchen Dorji, owner of Sheldrup Hotel in Tsimasham. He has started to construct a makeshift house along the new highway.
“I have leased private land,” he said, explaining it would take at least two years to come up with new concrete building.
Rinchen Dorji already has land along the highway for construction. However, he would observe the land, as it is prone to landslides.
“Five passenger buses used to stop at my restaurant,” he said. “Right now there is no business at all in Tsimasham.”
Rinchen Dorji, meanwhile, said the Damchu-Chukha bypass would benefit the people at large. “It is an important link.”
Owner of Subba Restaurant said she sold few plates of noodles yesterday. The restaurant was even closed for some time.
“We have already started to excavate and start construction along the new highway,” she said.
However, until the construction of building is completed, it would be difficult, she said, explaining the place she was renting along the highway to shift her restaurant was expensive.
“It is Nu 33,000 a month, while it is just Nu 10,000 in Tsimasham,” she said.
Kencho Dorji, another hotelier has also bought land along the highway to construct a restaurant.
“I will take some time but I will start a temporary one soon,” he said.
“For now, since there is no business in Tsimasham, I want to take some rest.”
Karma Hotel owner, Namgay has also already started constructing his restaurant. “I want to have a high-end restaurant,” he said.
Although, restaurants and hotels would eventually shift to the new route, existing grocery shops and buildings would be affected in the long run, Tsimasham residents said.
House spaces would be left empty as the restaurant shift to the Damchu-Chukha highway for business.
Rajesh Rai | Tsimasham