Monsoon: Just when the football match was getting intense, a sizable portion of the retaining wall of Trashigang middle secondary school’s football pitch collapsed on August 22.
Following incessant downpour for the past five days, the wall on the left side of the pavilion gave in around 4:30pm.
A two-storied structure right below the ground narrowly escaped major damages for a few shattered windows. The three families living in the government quarter had evacuated just in time.
Following the incident, the ground was immediately evacuated and remedial measures started. Until yesterday, the topsoil was excavated to reduce pressure off the retaining wall. Unstable parts of the wall were also brought down and the area has been barricaded.
The wall was constructed when the ground underwent expansion works about six months ago. The uneven ground was widened by about five meters and filled up with soil.
Dzongkhag Engineer (DE) Lakjey said there was an already existing wall when constructions started in mid 2013. A Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) base was laid and another wall was raised.
“To level the ground, we filled up the slope area with soil by about two meters,” he said. “Continuous seepage of rainwater compressed the soil that exerted additional pressure on the wall to collapse.”
He said that a team from the dzongkhag disaster management inspected the ground on August 22. The risky area was barricaded for safety before the ongoing regional football tournament continued.
“After we found the area had sustained cracks and was sinking, we also asked the families living below to evacuate,” he said.
Trashigang dzongdag, Lungten Dorji, said that the dzongkhag administration would discuss with the government on reconstructing the wall.
Works on the drawings and designs to reconstruct the wall through RCC method are already underway. However, the DE said there might be a requirement for an expert’s hand.
“Our investigation reports show that the area is filled with loose soil and should we face difficulty with the designs, we must opt for an expert,” the DE said.
The pillars holding the pavilion have also shown additional cracks after the incident. It has been identified as standing on a risk prone area and the structure could be dismantled.
Eight households below the ground have moved away and are still dependent on their friends and relatives.
Meanwhile, heavy rainfall also triggered a landslide at the zero point near Trashigang police station the same day. Traffic was closed for hours when heavy boulders evaded the highway. It has also been reported that most farm roads across the dzongkhag are blocked.
Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang