China's last road-less county Medog, in Tibet, will be connected with the outside when construction on a highway is completed in three years as scheduled.
The 117-km highway, linking Zhamog Town, the county seat of Bome, and Medog, will end the history that local people have to rely on horses and mules for transportation in Medog, said Yao Bohua, head of the highway planning and design institute under the region's communication department.
Situated at Tibet's border with India and nestled among snow-capped mountains, there are only mountain paths connecting villages and towns. In case of landslides and mud-rock-flow, the county is isolated with the outside.
The tough terrains, complicated geological conditions, lack of fund and poor technologies had failed seven attempts to build a highway in that area since the 1970s.
"This time we employed advanced surveying and mapping technologies, especially the global positioning system (GPS), in the construction project," Yao said.
At a cost of 950 million yuan (138.6 million US dollars), the project is wholly funded by the country, he added.
Workers were digging a 3.3-km tunnel through the Galung La mountain in Nyingchi Prefecture, which has an average altitude of about 5,000 meters.
"The construction on the tunnel is a very important phase of the project," Yao said. "When it is completed, the progress for the rest of the project will be smoothed."
The sparsely populated Medog, which means "flower" in the Tibetan language, has only about 10,000 inhabitants, mostly in rural areas. It is the last of the country's 2,100 counties to be connected via a highway.
(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2009)