Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

To ease congestion at the Mini Dry Port (MDP) and truck parking (temporary port), and reduce the import costs, the Southern Covid-19 task force (SC19TF) opened an additional driver switching point in Phuentsholing yesterday. 

Phuentsholing Higher Secondary School ground was inaugurated as the driver switching area on September 8. The initiative was coordinated by the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and its members along with relevant agencies as per the instruction of the SC19TF.

With the new driver switching station, the vehicles entering from India with goods will directly be escorted to the school premises. The Indian drivers will be kept in a containment area and the vehicles would be disinfected and kept untouched for a minimum of an hour. After that, the Bhutanese drivers will drive the vehicles to various godowns where the goods would be unloaded. The vehicles would then return to the switching area and be escorted to the exit gate with the same Indian drivers.

The SC19TF said: “This is expected to hugely benefit all the traders and importers.”

Meanwhile, importers intending to use the facility can register for the service.

The regional secretary of BCCI office in Phuentsholing, Sangay Dorji said that the station could accommodate approximately 50 trucks.

“And there are 51 approved or registered warehouses,” he said. “Firstly, it will ease the pressure on MDP and truck parking. Secondly, it will also cut down on many unnecessary costs.”

A Phuentsholing-based importer said that, unlike the MDP and truck parking ports, there will be no need to pay the loaders.

“Until today Indian drivers were allowed only until MDP,” he said, adding that importers paid extra on freight, loading and unloading charges.

“Now, we can directly take the goods to our godowns and our labourers can unload,” he said. 

Edited by Tshering Palden