Nima | Gelephu

Without public transport service, travelling from Sarpang to other parts of the country has become difficult for commuters without cars or means to arrange transportation.

Except for the movement of buses and taxis within the dzongkhag, public transport service from Sarpang to other dzongkhags has not resumed. However, over 400 people who could arrange their own vehicles travelled after completion of the mandatory quarantine since the lockdown was eased last month.

Dzongkhag officials register in-country travellers for quarantine if the person could arrange their own transportation. This was done to ensure people move out of dzongkhag at the earliest after the quarantine.

However, this had kept many who could not arrange transportation, in the absence of public transport service, confused.

Kezang Choden who would be leaving for Thimphu after the quarantine said that without buses, there were many facing the problem of not being able to arrange transportation.

“The registration for the mandatory quarantine is done mainly for people who could manage their own transportation. Those without it were denied. They should register on a first come first serve basis,” she said.

She added that resuming public transport would ease the situation for travellers after required health formalities are completed. “It would be convenient for people. It’s even difficult to get registration for quarantine,” said Kezang Choden.

Kezang and her friend managed to arrange a car until Darachu. The entry of vehicles from Sarpang without movement card is restricted from that point, as it marks the start of Tsirang dzongkhag.  They hired a taxi for Nu 6,000 till Thimphu from Darachu.

Officials from the Road Safety and Transport Authority in Gelephu said buses were arranged only for students. The dzongkhag task force ensures people are quarantined and tested before they depart to their destinations.

Sarpang dzongdag, Karma Galay said priority was given to travellers who could move right after the completion of the mandatory quarantine.  “If not we would have to quarantine them again, which would be a waste of resources,” he said.

The task force plans to streamline procedures and plans to start bus service till Darachu from where commuters would be connected to other buses coming from Thimphu.

The dzongkhag also quarantined a few taxi drivers taking genuine travellers out of the dzongkhag in the same hotel. Taxis and private cars are permitted to drop till Darachu.

However, taxi operators had to cope up with different formalities put in place daily while driving customers till Darachu, according to Taxi Association Tshogpa in Sarpang, Neykor.

“There were no clear directives from authorities concerned to date. Taxis are allowed to move within the dzongkhag but we are often stopped at checkpoints,” he said.