Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Following importers’ complaints, the rates for transhipment, loading and unloading at the customs port in Phuentsholing have been revised with effect from June 25.

The new rates have been fixed by the Covid-19 Task Force in Phuentsholing.

Transhipment rate for a Bolero Pickup is now Nu 1,000, down from Nu 1,200 to Nu 1,500. In a transhipment, labourers will directly shift the goods and commodities from one vehicle to another.

The new rate for unloading or loading from a Bolero Pickup is Nu 1,200 now, down from more than Nu 1,500.

Transhipment and “unloading and loading” for a six-wheeler truck has been fixed at Nu 3,000 and Nu 3,500 respectively. Earlier labourers charged anywhere between Nu 4,000 and Nu 9,000.

A loader at the customs port, Tanding Tshering, who has taken up the manual job more than a month ago said that the income has dropped by about 25 percent.

“But we are still getting work,” he said. “And we are okay with the revision.”

The former employee of a private firm said that it was still an earning opportunity considering the lack of jobs.

Tanding Tshering, who is also the head of the 32 loaders at the customs port said, “There were complains that loading and unloading charges added up the prices on the end consumers.”

“We are okay with the revision but the benefit should be passed down to the end consumers and the authorities should ensure this is done.”

A member of the hardware association, Kaka Dawa said that the rates of hardware in the market will definitely decrease.

“Although there may not be huge changes people will benefit,” Kaka Dawa said.

Kaka Dawa also said that their association had proposed the revised rates to the government. The revised rates, he said were almost the same as the association had proposed with minor changes. “We are okay with that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the hardware association has also provided two machines, a forklift and a payloader at the Mini Dry Port (MDP). It was to help the young labourers to manoeuvre the heavy hardware materials.

The coordinator with the hardware association, Thinley Dorji said that they have also deployed 15 workers at the MDP, who have started to work since June 28. “We are doing this for accountability.”

Thinley Dorji said that a lot of materials, such as glasses and tiles were broken, while some goods were also missing. Since the importers couldn’t enter the MDP to verify, they were clueless and faced losses.

“Now we have deployed two supervisors and others are our own workers,” he said.

On June 28, Thinley Dorji said that 24 imported tiles were broken before being unloaded. Without their staff at the port, it would have been difficult to ascertain this. He said the blame would then be passed onto the loaders.

He said that all the staff they deployed follow the same Covid-19 safety protocols as the loaders.

The proprietor of Inspire Bhutan, a construction company, said he could save at least Nu 4,000 to Nu 5,000 from the revised rates.

“However, we still have to pay charges for hiring local vehicles and then loading the goods,” he said. “Earlier the same vehicle would drop.” 

With the revision, the charges of transhipping an AAC block (small size) has dropped to Nu 2.50, which is a decrease from Nu 3 before. For medium and large ACC blocks the new rates are Nu 4 and Nu 4.50, Nu 1 for every red brick, and Nu 5 for a bag of 25kg rice.