They claim that the vehicles were not in running condition as stipulated in the auction notice

Auction: Some people who secured the bid for government pool vehicles at an auction on August 6 were left dejected after they took ownership of the vehicles.

About 60 government pool vehicles, including 49 Toyota Hiluxes or pick-up trucks, aged more than 15 years were auctioned. The auction notice was issued more than a month prior to the auction date, giving the interested bidders a month’s time to inspect the vehicles.

Although Ngawang Chogyal won the bid for a 1998-model Toyota Hilux by participating in the auction of government pool vehicles on August 6, he found himself at the losing end. “I feel cheated,” he said.

A Nu 750,000 bid secured his victory but when he went to get the vehicle the next day, it had to be manually pushed. There he found that all the four tyres were fitted with resoled ones. He some how got it to the workshop and found that the entire shaft of the four-wheel drive had been removed.

“The vehicle failed the roadworthiness and the auction notice stated it was in running condition,” Ngawang Chogyal said. When he took the vehicle back, he said he was told that once the vehicle is taken out of the auction yard no complaints would be entertained. This is also according to the terms and conditions set by the Department of National Properties (DNP).

Another businessman, Tandin Dorji had also bought a 1999-model Hilux at Nu 785,000. “The vehicle was not in running condition because the battery was exhausted,” he said. The vehicle he bought also had all its four tires replaced with resoled ones. Any vehicle will fail the roadworthiness test if resoled tires are used in the front, as per the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) rules.

He said that the power steering pump, fuse covers and constant-velocity (CV) joint were missing from the vehicle he purchased.

Karma Jamtsho also had to spend more than Nu 160,000 to replace the missing parts of the 1998-model Hilux he purchased for Nu 815,000. “If I knew that I had to spend this much amount of money, I would have purchased a brand new Hyundai Creta,” he said. “I had to order for new keys because the key they gave didn’t work.”

While acknowledging that they were given the opportunity to inspect the vehicles, they said the keys were missing and all the vehicles were parked very closely. “There is hardly any space to see the vehicles from underneath,” Ngawang Chogyal said.

Karma Jamtsho added that the battery he saw while inspecting the vehicle and the battery that was there when he took ownership of the car was different. He suspects the same might have happened with other parts.

The director of the national properties department however said that the terms and conditions are clear and that bidders were given a month’s time to inspect the vehicles. “They could have brought a mechanic to inspect the vehicles,” he said.

The bidders, he said clearly know that the vehicles are more than 15-years old. “Yet they complain of vehicles not having music system, air conditioning and small coverings and handles,” he said. Some, he said, had driven the vehicle to Wangduephodrang and came back to complain about the missing parts.

As for the problem with the battery, he said the vehicles were surrendered by various government agencies and kept at the auction yard for more than a month without using. This, he said might have caused the battery drainage.

While some complained that the history of the vehicles were not revealed, the director general said that the department has papers on missing components and the whole history of the vehicles are inspected when the vehicle is surrendered to the department.

But since the papers also contained the cost price of the vehicles, he said the papers were not shown to the bidders.

Hereafter, he said the cost price would be removed from the papers and the whole history of the vehicles would be pasted on the dashboards.

To make it more transparent, he said CCTVs would be installed at the auction yard for safety and to ensure no thefts occur.

The department will also re-strengthen its manpower. For instance, drivers and mechanical engineers will be recruited to check on the vehicles regularly.

The auction committee comprises of officials from the finance ministry, RSTA, traffic division of the Royal Bhutan Police and the director general of DNP.

Tshering Dorji