Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Those building houses in Dewathang town, Samdrupjongkhar are deploying skilled Bhutanese workers at their construction sites to meet the labour shortage as the Indian workers could not come after the closure of the border gates.

More than 35 skilled Bhutanese workers are working at the construction sites today. There are about five buildings under construction in Dewathang.

A trained welder, Dorji Gyeltshen is doing welding and fabrication works at one of the buildings.

Dorji Gyeltshen, 28, said that there have always been fewer opportunities for the skilled Bhutanese workers as the construction owners employed expatriate workers. “We hardly used to get one or two buildings a year before.”

He said although the pandemic had affected the nation as a whole, it had been a good business for the Bhutanese workers in the communities.

“I have completed the welding and fabrication works of two buildings in the past six months, and now I am with my third assignment.”

Dorji Gyeltshen said he had cancelled two buildings as he was busy. He has accepted contracts for three buildings in Nganglam, Pemagatshel. “I have earned about Nu 200,000 so far.”

A mason, Sangay Dorji from Martang in Dewathang, said that locals get to learn and develop expertise from the construction works. He earns Nu 600 a day.

He said that earlier it was extremely difficult for masons like him to get work at construction sites.

“Bhutanese workers can be as good as any other if given the opportunity,” he said.  “Demanding high wages could be a reason for not deploying skilled Bhutanese workers.”

Ugyen Tshering, who is constructing a house, said he employed Bhutanese workers as expatriate workers could not come after the closure of the border gates.

“The Bhutanese workers are doing good and would also get experiences if they take up such works,” he said.

The owners said that they used to employ Bhutanese workers but most refused.

“They opt for white-collar jobs and demand high wages even if they take up manual construction work,” one of the owners said.