MoIT places sensors along Wangdue Phodrang-Trongsa highway to decrease disaster-related accidents

Roads in Bhutan become dangerous in summer due to landslides. To decrease accidents due to such disasters, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport has placed sensors in three places along the Wangdue Phodrang-Trongsa highway to detect soil movement.

Under the JICA project titled “Capacity Development on Countermeasures of Slope Disaster on Roads in Bhutan,” the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport installed sensors in 2019 at Dzongkhalum and Reotala in Trongsa and Ratsawog in Wangdue Phodrang.

These three areas were found to have highly active slides while installing the sensors. The sensors detect movement in the soil and track soil movement, which will help officials predict when a slope might fail.

According to officials, through continuous monitoring, experts have found that rainfall of more than 20 millimetres can trigger soil movement. When the sensors detect this amount of rainfall, an alert will be issued to relevant officials through the slope warning system.

“We have installed rain gauges and tilt sensors, the amount of rainfall will be picked by the gauge and will be picked by the data logger. These two parameters will be sent to the Department of Surface Transport headquarters server and we have collected a pattern of over three years of data,” said  Krishna Subba, chief programme officer at JICA Bhutan Office.

He added that this approach will help protect commuters and reduce the risk of accidents due to slope disasters.

As part of the project, an Ex-Ante Traffic Drill was conducted yesterday at Dzongkhalum in Trongsa with traffic personnel, the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority officials, and engineers.

“The overall objective of this project is to enhance the capacity of the Department of Surface Transport’s engineers to effectively manage the landslide disasters. It is a strategy designed to stimulate emergency scenarios thereby training and preparing relevant stakeholders,” said Dhan Raj Chhetri, deputy executive engineer at the Department of Surface Transport.

“This drill not only helps traffic personnel but all of the relevant stakeholders. There were no sensors in places of slope failures before, and the information about roadblocks used to come from commuters. But now with the sensor, we know beforehand because of the alert,” said Peljab Sangay Dendhup, a traffic police in Trongsa.

According to officials, the drill will familiarise relevant stakeholders with knowledge and skills including managing traffic and safety during situations where slopes may fail, causing dangers on the roads.

Deki Lhazom

Edited by Phub Gyem

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