Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Business is usual in Mongar although the number of people visiting the town has been on a decline amidst the Covid-19 scare.

Businesses had been hit, but the groceries and shops are well stocked even if there is a sudden rush for essentials. Choney Wangmo of Phuntsho Rabgay Trader, a prominent grocer in Mongar town, said some villagers and civil servants started buying three to five bags of rice after the border lock down.

Choney said she stocked more than three truckloads in addition to her regular consignment. Her problem is in the increase in transportation cost. “A truck is charging now charging around Nu 50,000 to reach a load to Mongar from Phuentsholing via Thimphu, which is more than double the charge of Nu 24,000 via Nganglam highway,” she said.  “While we are mandated to not increase the price, I don’t think we can stock more than what is brought in by our two trucks,” she said.

Another grocery shop owner, Pem Zangmo said stocked more than five truckloads of goods. Her two trucks have been stranded for about a week in Phuentsholing because there are no labourers to load goods.

The people of Mongar need not worry as the Food Corporation of Bhutan’s Mongar depot has 405.63 metric tonnes (MT) of rice, 39.93MT of edible oil, and 16.28MT of pulses.

FCB’s Mongar depot manager, Birkha Bdr Darjee said more than five trucks ferrying essential goods reach the depot every week and the whole stock is expected to reach Mongar within April. He said the stock would be maintained at the depot that has a capacity of 800MT. The remaining will be stocked in schools.

While some shops, dzongkhag and regional offices have kept hand sanitiser and hand washing facilities, most of the residents in Mongar town are not worried about the virus.

Not many bother to take part in the awareness programmes. In the recent awareness programme conducted for town residents in the middle of the town, there were only about 20 people.

Thromde thuemi Namgay Dorji and BCCI member Tawchu said there are more than 200 shopkeepers in the town and they were reluctant to attend although they were informed.

“We are planning to go shop to shop to advocate on the precautionary measures,” Namgay Dorji said.

Meanwhile, a passenger bus plying from Mongar to Samdrupjongkhar has been stranded since yesterday without passengers. RSTA officials said the bus is likely to resume on Sunday.