Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The Government of India (GoI) has officially recognised Allay Land Customs Station (LCS) in Pasakha as a trading route.

LCS was inaugurated on July 15 and allowed Pasakha-bound industrial import trucks to directly go to the estate without having to enter Phuentsholing. This was agreed as a temporary measure after several dialogues between the GoI and the government. It was limited to just the goods from the Pasakha industries. Industrial trucks taking export goods were still not allowed to use the LCS.

However, since August 19, GoI facilitated the exit movement of industrial trucks with export goods without having to enter Phuentsholing.   

From Allay LCS, the trucks directly connected to the Asian Highway 48 from Bibarey on the Indian side.

GoI now has approved this LCS as a formal trading route, not only for the industry related goods but also all other goods and commodities.

Phuentsholing being the largest trading town in the country, with more than 80 percent of trade happening, the route is expected to immensely benefit Bhutan.

With the current congestion at the Mini Dry Port (MDP) and its limited handling capacity, Allay LCS is expected to provide immediate relief to the import.

Even before the Allay LCS was formally approved as an entry-exit point for import-export, import of goods and essentials had been facilitated due to the MDP congestion. But it still didn’t allow import-export with third countries.

Many importers had said that opening import of goods and commodities from Allay LCS would ease the burden on the MDP in Phuentsholing.

“Now we can directly import the raw material such as the semi-coke, which has to come from third countries, from Allay LCS,” one industrial official said. “The route will be short and logistics cost and crowding reduced.”

Importers from Thimphu and other dzongkhags will also have an alternative import route.

After the lockdown relaxation, importers have suffered additional costs due to the limited number of imports allowed, which took waiting for registration approval for days on end adding demurrages. This will come down and ease smooth flow of import.

The officiating regional director with the trade office in Phuentsholing, Sonam Dhendup, said Allay LCS’s formal integration was good news to the economy.

“We will be able to import more,” he said. “Things are improving.”

These days, about 120 import trucks enter Phuentsholing from both Allay LCS and MDP.

To further improve the import flow, Sonam Dhendup said that 69 warehouses were approved.

“Importers with these warehouses don’t need to bring their consignments to MDP,” he said.

Importers with warehouses also have their own labourers, which eases workload to MDP loaders. However, some warehouses depend on loaders from the MDP.