Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Shopping at the three-storied vegetable market complex in Phuentsholing has finally become safer with people monitored to keep safe distance.

It took 60 Bhutan Red Cross Society (BRCS) volunteers to do this. The BRCS coordinator, Choezang Tashi, said it has been about a week since they took the task of controlling crowd at the complex.

“It was difficult to handle the crowd in the first few days,” he said, adding both customers and vendors are now supportive.

The BRCS members work in shift systems. The first shift starts at nine in the morning and continues until 12pm, the second continues until four in the evening, followed by the last until 7pm.

Shopping time has decreased with people having to wait in lines and washing their hands before they enter the stalls and also use the Druk Trace tracing app.

Choezang Tashi said the process, although time-consuming could be shortened if they had another water tank installed.

“We just have one tank right now and all the people queue up to wash from this,” he said. The tank has to be refilled thrice a day. “It would also help if people can contribute hand sanitisers and a tank.”

A vegetable vendor, Namgay Lhamo said the BRCS’ coming has eased the crowd.

“It was risky as there was no one to tell,” she said. “They wouldn’t listen to us. And it was also not good on our part to tell our customers to maintain distance.”

Although the crowding has minimised, some vendors said that it is impossible to totally control the crowd.

There are more than 200 BRCS volunteers in the border town. The volunteers include taxi drivers, officials from different sectors and from the business community.