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The suspension bridge in Kamichu
The suspension bridge in Kamichu

Highway damage: Commuters use 30-year-old suspension bridge

With about 700 meters of the Tsirang-Wangdue highway submerged completely between Zawakha and Kamichu, commuters are forced to use a 30-year-old suspension bridge in Kamichu.

Following the massive damages caused by the flashflood from Phangdorongchu in Jarigang on the night of August 6, the highway has been closed for traffic for about eight days now.

In the meantime, a temporary passage was opened on Monday by restoring Athang gewog centre road.

Commuters from Dagana, Tsirang, and Gelephu are being transshipped from one side of the bridge.

More than a hundred people, including students of Phetakha School, officials and labourers of PHPA-II, commuters and service providers use the bridge every day.

Business has picked up for some local vendors. There are food stalls selling dumplings, bottled water, and doma to commuters.

Nyechen Zangpo, 60, who was travelling to Wangdue from Tsirang, said that travel has become expensive and cumbersome.

A vegetable vendor said that it costs him additional Nu 5,000 as he has to hire labours to ferry the vegetables to the other side of the bridge.  “The roadblock has affected my business.”

To ensure safety, police personnel are busy controlling the commuter and road traffics.

Tempa Tamang, a mechanic at one of the car workshops in Thimphu, had to wait for seven days to travel due to a roadblock.

Meanwhile, highway restoration continues. The officials expect to open the highway to traffic in about four days.

In an area stretching about 1.2 kilometers where extensive damages have occurred, the works are underway to clear the debris that partially blocked the main course of Punatsangchhu and to lower water level that has been diverted to the highway.

The Vice President of Public and Administration with PHPA-II, Retired Brigadier O.P Tomar, said that currently, the highway condition had worsened with the flashflood.

“Therefore, the construction of a road in parallel to the existing highway was found as alternative.”

As of August 14, a connecting road about 500 meters from two ends of the submerged highway was constructed.

“About 225 meters will be reclaimed from the existing road by refilling soil once the water level subsides,” O.P Tomar said.

Most of the properties such as electronic and mechanical components that were lost to the flashflood were insured, according to officials.

Meanwhile, the search continues for four missing labourers working for PHPA-II; Md. Eklakh Khan, 54, Pradip Patar, 46, Manjay Kumar, 36 and Hariom Vishwakarma 34.


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