Bhutanese truckers and drivers, who violate traffic rules in India, will not have to travel all the way to Alipurduar, West Bengal to pay penalties now.

They can now make online payments in Jaigaon, traffic police officials of Alipurduar and road safety officials announced yesterday at the programme on road safety while plying the Indian highways.

Officials said the system was recently launched.

With the recent incident where a Bhutanese trucker fatally hit a student on the Assam highway leading the locals to burn the truck, Bhutanese truckers and cabbies were sensitised on road safety while plying along the Indian highways.

About 100 drivers attended the sensitisation programme organised by the Department of Law and Order (DLO) in collaboration with the Phuentsholing traffic police and Road Safety and Transport Authority  (RSTA).

Some of the pertinent issues discussed were the proper channel to pay fines, understanding signs and signals and requirement of correct documents.

The officer-in-command of traffic police of Alipurduar, Diwakar Ghosh, made a presentation on documents drivers need to possess while driving on Indian roads.

Although most documents required are the same in India and Bhutan, there are three additional documents  – an emission certificate that is renewed every six months, an authorisation certificate if the driver is not the vehicle owner and a tax token, that Bhutanese drivers should have while driving on the Indian highways.

Police officials explained that in India, vehicle owners are exempted from conducting emission tests for a year after the vehicle is bought. “Only after that, a driver will have to do emission tests every six months,” the OC said.

In Bhutan, three years exemption is provided, following which a yearly emission test is done. Traffic officials from India said they would look into this matter.

Bhutanese drivers said that the yellow traffic light confused them while driving.

Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) of traffic in Alipurduar district, Majoj Das, said this signal light was initially difficult for their people to understand. “They are getting accustomed to it now,” he said.

He said the light indicates the driver to slow down and to warn drivers of pedestrian zebra crossings or other risk areas.

The DSP also said that they are concerned about the safety of both Indian and Bhutanese people.

“We need your help, support, and cooperation,” he said, advising drivers to not over-speed, drink drive and carry the required documents. “We have to work together.”

DLO director Tashi Penjore said incidents like the recent one would affect people to people contact, trust and relationship. “It is important for our drivers to be well versed with all the traffic signals and rules,” he said.

He said that through the workshop, they intend to sensitise drivers on what to do in case of such accidents and whom to contact for safety, such as police stations and hospitals.

The drivers were also sensitised to give way to VVIP cars, ambulances, and firefighter vehicles.

The DLO director told drivers to avoid carrying illegal and contraband goods,

A member of the truckers’ committee, BB Tamang, said the programme was timely. “We will share what we learnt from this to other drivers that did not attend today,” he said.

A member of the taxi association, Karma, said drivers would be happy if everything was followed as per the rule on the highways. “But it is the locals who turn aggressive.”

Taxi Association president, Rinzin Chophel, said that 30 to 40 cabbies drive the Indian highway between Phuentsholing and Samdrupjongkhar and Nganglam.

Alipurduar police officials also distributed pamphlets on traffic rules, telephone numbers of area wise police stations and hospitals. The sensitisation programme will be carried out in other four regions of Samtse, Gelephu, Samdrupjongkhar and Nganglam.