Nima Wangdi

Bhutanese drivers could expect better travelling experience on Indian highways once the measures to eliminate exploitation on toll fees materialise.

Foreign minister, Dr Tandi Dorji said that Bhutanese drivers traveling through India should buy a fast track card, a card to pay the toll fees along the highway. He said, to be able to avail fast-track service, one should have a bank account with an Indian bank or should buy the cards from authorized sellers in Jaigaon.

The card is stuck on the car windshield and the cameras at the toll fee counters automatically read the codes on the card and deduct the actual amount without the driver having to stop. The problem is when Bhutanese drivers land up buying fast-track cards from unauthorized sellers or buying them at the toll fee gates.

Lyonpo said the drivers travel without buying the cards from certified sellers and they get cheated when they hit toll fee counters where unauthorized sellers make them buy cards that actually don’t work or charge them extra in cash.

Lyonpo said the government is working towards opening a bank account with an Indian bank so that Bhutanese drivers can use it for paying toll fees along the Indian highways. “India has already agreed to help us open the bank account and the Royal Monetary Authority might probably be the account holder.”

Bhutanese travel to places like Phuentsholing, Samdrupjongkhar, Gelephu, Nganglam, and Jomotshangkha via India for different reasons.

India started the fast track system to smoothen the travel of their own cars during the Covid-19 pandemic. The authorized card sellers in Jaigaon know exactly how many toll fee counters are there on the way based on the driver’s destination.

In recent months, many Bhutanese who travelled through India shared their experiences on social media as well as in mainstream media.