Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Bhutanese trucks stranded at Fulbari for more than three months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in India have finally returned. 

Fulbari borders with Bangladeshi town of Banglabandhu. Boulders and other riverbed materials (RBM) headed to Bangladesh in trucks from Bhutan enter through this town. 

Of 489 trucks stranded at the Fulbari parking lot, 316 have entered Bhutan as of yesterday, according to the Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA). 

Of that 240 trucks are from Phuentsholing, and 76 from Gomtu. 

According to the exporters, 40 trucks remained at Jaigaon looking for work because there is limited work in Phuentsholing with the export of boulders severely hit by the pandemic. Another 10 trucks are in Jaigaon for repairs. 

The general secretary with BEA, Tshering Yeshi said that they were working on it since the lockdown began. 

“We had informed the Covid-19 Task Force in Phuentsholing and sought their help,” he said.

“We want to thank the Task Force for the support.”

The general secretary also said that BEA’s decision to keep the trucks at the parking lot and letting the consignments be delivered across the border to Bangladesh was a wise decision. 

All the consignments of 489 trucks have been exported to Bangladesh.

“The materials were worth approximately Nu 24 million (M),” Tshering Yeshi said.

The trucks are being isolated for three days at Toorsa embankment at Purbey area with a security system in place before their respective owners take them. They are also disinfected before they are handed over. 

The drivers from across the border who drive the trucks home are escorted back to Jaigaon.

Meanwhile, 119 trucks out of 489 stranded at Fulbari are yet to enter Bhutan. Although these trucks have offloaded their consignments to Bangladesh, the owners have not informed or recorded their details with the association. 

Exporters said this could be trucks that are registered in Bhutan but owned and operated by people from across the border.  

Further, there are more than 500 Indian trucks loaded with Bhutanese consignments (boulders), headed towards Bangladesh at Changgrabandha parking lot, the Indian town that borders with Bangladesh’s Burimari.

BEA general secretary Tshering Yeshi said that the officials have not agreed to open the India-Bangladesh border to offload the consignments yet.