Twenty-six truckers have been suspended from carrying sand after they stopped ferrying sand after the introduction of the new sand supply system.

The Natural Resources Development Corporation Limited (NRDCL) introduced the system on January 1.

According to NRDCL officials, the office would issue the permit only on production of security clearance.

Following the implementation of the new rule, about 300 truckers had temporarily stopped carrying sand. Reportedly, police took some truckers for questioning after the incident.

Truckers transporting sand from Wangdue had expressed their reservations about the new system. The rule required the transaction of sand to be routed through the NRDCL, meaning that construction owners should place requirement of sand with the NRDCL and not with transporters.

The buyer deposits the cost of transportation to the NRDCL, which then pays the transporter on behalf of the construction owner.

The transportation cost was also slashed.

CEO of NRDCL, Sonam Wangchuk, said the truckers would not be issued the permit unless they produce clearance from the home ministry and the Royal Bhutan Police.

However, he said that the supply of sand was not interrupted with the blacklisting of the 26 truckers. The rest of the truckers are transporting sand as usual.

“The supply of sand is not affected,” he said, adding that the rest of the truckers can receive the permit to carry sand.

Truckers said that the restriction affected their business and livelihood.

“Now the NRDCL is demanding clearance from the home ministry and the police to carry sand,” said a trucker. “We are not able to repay our loan as we don’t have work.”

According to truckers, the reduced income is just enough to repay the loan, pay the driver’s salary and meet expenses for maintenance.

A truck driver’s salary ranges between Nu 12,000 to 15,000 a month. About Nu 20,000 should be paid as vehicle loan.

According to the NRDCL, the new system would protect consumers and address the issue price escalation. It would also help regulate transportation charge.

Earlier at the meet the press, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the issues related to the cost of transportation and truck owners’ ability to earn a profit with the revised rate would be reviewed.

Truckers want construction companies to directly place requirement to them and not through the NRDCL. As a result, transportation cost increased.

Prime minister was of the view that truck owners must earn some profit while keeping the price reasonable. He said the government would not let the price escalate and that the transportation cost was reduced as a result in fuel price change three months ago.

MB Subba