Kelzang Wangchuk | Samsdrupjongkhar

The Eastern Covid-19 Coordination Office (ECCO) at Dewathang, Samdrupjongkhar, launched an interim mini dry port (IMDP) at Pelzomthang in Nganglam to facilitate smooth import and export of goods through a formal point of entry to the eastern dzongkhags yesterday.

Nganglam has become one of the main gateways for the eastern dzongkhags with the highways connecting Panbang in Zhemgang, Gyelposhing in Mongar and Pemagatshel. The place is also well connected with central and western regions.

The IMDP will serve as the first layer containment area for imported goods and essentials for most of the eastern dzongkhags amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nganglam drungkhag administration constructed the mini dry port departmentally since September 9 by mobilising young volunteers from the drungkhags, regional, corporate entities and gewogs to exchange skills and impart cross-skills, inculcate a sense of ownership and volunteerism and to save cost.

The government invested about Nu 4.27 million for the construction.

According to a press release from ECCO, the project offered immense opportunity to harness the skills of young individuals beyond their professional field and also enhance the spirit of volunteerism and reskilling of drungkhag engineers, technicians and staff through their direct involvement in the construction and fabrication works. They completed the IMDP within the 80 days.

The IMDP would operate from  today and would play a pivotal role in facilitating the imports and exports during the pandemic.

“The IMDP would minimize the risk and curtail the outbreak of Covid-19 in Nganglam as the first layer of the containment area. It would also be the nodal logistic and inland trade distribution point for the eastern dzongkhags through the Integrated Checkpoint (ICP) at Pelzomthang,” the press release stated.

It also stated the IMDP should encompass seamless handling, storage and inspection of both import and export commodities through adequate surveillance at the site and offer greater prospects to the local economy with easy, unhindered and safe transit of the goods to other parts of the country.

The IMDP has transhipment bay with stocking yard, containment area, toilet and bathrooms with watchtower and boundary wall for both Indian truckers and low-risk drivers.

“All importers and exporters should faithfully follow the transhipment protocols for harnessing the objective of the IMDP during this critical situation,” the press release stated.

Before the construction of IMDP, import and export was facilitated through open space transhipment, which was coordinated through the collaborative support of De-Suups and officials at the ICP.

An official said that five unemployed De-Suups volunteered for transhipment and loaders were deployed through voluntary basis, adding that a total of 17 youth volunteers participated in the transhipment of goods with seven loaders currently shouldering the daily transhipment works.

Meanwhile, goods will be quarantined for 48 to 72 hours at the IMDP.