More than 150 trucks ferrying boulders to Bangladesh were held at Fulbari, Indian border to Bangladesh after locals stopped the trucks without any specific reasons.
This comes when the export of boulders to Bangladesh has increased by more than 500 percent in the last one year.
Trucks were stranded for about 10 days and the problem was resolved only on May 29.
A proprietor of a transport company in Phuentsholing said it helps when government offices follow up.
He said two of his staff had gone to Fulbari with Phuentsholing drungkhag officials to resolve the matter.
The proprietor said there could be various reasons for the problem.
“India also exports boulders to Bangladesh but Bhutanese boulders are preferred, which could have agitated the locals,” he said.
He also said Bangladesh prefers boulders from Bhutan because there is tax benefit.
In 2017, Bhutan exported 1.84M MT of stone chips and boulders to Bangladesh, worth USD 27.64M. This is an increase from 2,49,800MT of stone chips and boulders worth USD 3.65M in 2016.
The general secretary with Bhutan Exporters Association, Tshering Yeshi, said such problems happen quite often.
“We coordinate meetings with relevant agencies at the border visiting their offices and inform our government agencies,” he said, adding that in the recent problem, Phuentsholing drungkhag and Kolkata consulate office had intervened and resolved the matter.
Meanwhile, another transporter, Sonam Jamtsho of KRC Transport said four of his trucks are grounded across the border at Hasimara since June 6 evening.
“Boulders in those trucks belong to STCBL,” he said. “It is a loss for both transporters and the government.”
Sonam Jamtsho said vehicle documents like seizure receipts were not provided.
He alleged that counterpart traffic officials are charging Nu 30,000 to Nu 40,000 to get the trucks out from detention. He also said the trucks held at Fulbari caused problems to drivers adding that transporters have to pay Nu 7,000 to Nu 10,000 to traffic inspectors.
However, sources said that these are charges for overload, which is legit.
Truckers’ committee chairman, BB Tamang, said Bhutan enjoys excellent trade relationship with both India and Bangladesh.
“Boulder exports have increased in recent years,” he said, adding that few problems are bound to arise. “We always cooperate with the counterpart officials.”
Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing