Chhimi Dema 

Transporting essential goods to and from Phuentsholing and Thimphu, a trucker, Jagar Dorji, travels to Phuentsholing twice a week.

He said that he looks at the direction of his house in the plain, and wonders what his children are doing during every journey.

He has been away from home for six months now.

The 26-year-old from Samdrupjongkhar has been eating and sleeping in the truck. “I video call my children and wife. They ask me when I will return home,” he said.

He is not alone.

Another truck driver, Jigme Thinley, said that he tried to move his family to Thimphu but could not afford a house. “My children want me to come home but I have loans to repay.”

He said that it was difficult staying away from family for too long.

Another driver, Sangay Jamtsho, 32, from Tsirang, said that he did not see his family in Phuentsholing since the first lockdown. “The truck is my second home. I sleep and cook inside the truck.”

He said that social media facilitates him to stay connected with the family. “But there are times when you want to be with them, even if it is for a few days.”

Truckers say that they might get to see their family only if the government lifts the mandatory seven-day quarantine for those travelling from high-risk to low-risk areas. 

“People say that the mandatory quarantine was necessary because Phuentsholing is a high-risk area with Indian borders close. But vehicles coming from India are provided escort services,” Jagar Dorji said.

Jigme Thinley said that they also face challenges while switching vehicles from Sorchen. “Some drivers don’t bring all the consignments from Phuentsholing,” he said. “Some cheat us by refuelling only half and extorting money from us.”