Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Hit by the pandemic and lockdowns, business in Samtse is gradually picking up.

With the lockdowns in Phuentshopelri and Tading gewogs just recently lifted, there are no lockdowns in Samtse today.

A shopkeeper in Gola Bazaar in Tashichholing, Dilip Kumar Giri, said the business is moderate. “But most are taking credit.”

The shopkeeper said farmers don’t have much to spend this time due to the failure of the ginger business. “There is not much money in the market.”

Owner of Norbugang Bakery in Chengmari, Binod Biswa, said that even a lockdown in one gewog could affect the business.

“But there are no lockdowns today. This is good,” he said, adding that he could move for marketing and delivery.

A hardware proprietor at the heart of Samtse town, Palden Dorji said business is down. “I think people are scared to come out.”

People from Denchukha and Dumtey are also allowed to go to Samtse once a week. Dorokha gewog people are allowed to travel to Samtse twice a week.

Many say this also could be the reason why there are not many people in Samtse.

A businessman from Dorokha, Wang Tshering, said the overall economy in Dorokha and other gewogs are still affected.

“Getting goods from Samtse is expensive as there are not many who deal in wholesale businesses like in Phuentsholing,” he said, adding that profit margin remains less even after risking life to get goods from Samtse during bad weather.

“We used to bring goods from Phuentsholing but the lockdown didn’t allow us that.”

Goyal Store’s owner, Hemant Agarwal, said that the goods were also damaged during the lockdowns.

“Not many people come from Dorokha.”

The owner of Pema General Shop in Gomtu said there are not many people.

“But people still have to come to buy groceries.”

Although it was announced that movement to Phuentsholing was allowed yesterday, Gomtu businessmen cannot travel because the roads are not open. Even the road to Samtse is not cleared.

A businessman said he heard that clearing works of Gomtu-Samtse highway commenced yesterday.

“We are also importing from Birpara, Silliguri and Jaigaon these days.”

A Samtse resident said business is improving. “It has been quite a long time since relaxations were given. So it is improving.”

He said labour cost has also increased since there are not many imported skilled and unskilled workers.

“But this has also increased the income for Bhutanese workers.”

He also claimed while business has improved, expenses have also increased due to the increased cost of essentials.

However, the resident said that if someone can import essentials directly from the factories and manufacturers and supply to the wholesalers and retailers, it would benefit the people more.

Edited by Tashi Dema