Life returns to normal as lockdown eases

Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Pema Dema’s family had a long day yesterday – from selling the accumulated dairy products to weeding and cutting grasses in the paddy fields.

The nationwide lockdown was eased as the third phase of unlocking began on September 7.

Pema Dema and her daughter rushed to her paddy fields at Khalangzi on the Mongar-Kurizampa highway, far from her village in Chali gewog, Mongar.

Her son rushed to Gyalpoizhing town to sell eggs and bananas.

The fields have been left untouched for more than a month as the lockdown restricted movement and confined the farmers to their homes. As a result, grass and weeds have overgrown.

“I’ve requested the guards at Gangola, Mongar-Lhuentse junction permission to resume weeding after the lockdown was relaxed in the gewogs but they declined,” Pema Dema said.

“It’s almost late to weed now and I’m wondering if it would give proper yield like before,” the 54-year old from Wamakhar village, said.

Khalangzi is about 15km away from Chali and most of the villagers from Chali gewog own paddy fields.

Pema Dema said other villagers were also waiting for the lockdown to relax and could resume field work soon.

Jamyang Choden, a vegetable vendor at Gyalpoizhing vegetable market, bought a DCM truckload of vegetables worth Nu 130,000 from Tsakaling gewog a day before the lockdown. She suffered a loss of around Nu 50,000 as the vegetables got damaged.

“Only a few customers turned up today and I’m worried if the loss would be recovered,” she said.

The restaurants opened since September 6 in Gyalpoizhing town but not many turned up.

“We used to have at least 20 customers before but I had none on the first day and only three today,” a hotelier Yeshi Dema said yesterday.

With the movement of vehicle allowed, some villagers also brought their agriculture and livestock products in their private boleros and sold in Mongar and Gyalpoizhing town yesterday.

In Mongar town, the government and corporate offices resumed. Many came out on the streets. Electronics shop and photo studios also opened.

While the shopkeepers were happy to resume businesses they expressed concerns about the rent.

“I don’t have money to pay rent. I’ve requested the owner and got an extension until September 10. If business continues to be this bad, I’m afraid I won’t make it,” a shopkeeper who runs a photo studio, said.

Meanwhile, some stranded in Mongar and those with business in other dzongkhags are waiting for the fourth phase of the unlocking of the lockdown.

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