As the third lockdown in Phuentsholing extends to more than 60 days, many small business owners are now worried the products in their shops would expire.

This comes amidst mounting pressure of paying rents for shops and houses without any income.

Phuentsholing went into the third lockdown on April 17 this year and was not fully lifted since then.

A shopkeeper, Tshering Dorji, said the burden is becoming heavier each day.

“Now I understand how people get depression.”

He said that he is worried about rents, expiry dates of the goods and rats feeding on the stocks.

Tshering Dorji owns four small shops and pays Nu 87,000 a month as rent, which is difficult without earnings from the shops.

He said waiving off some house rent would ease many people like him. “Although house owners receive loan kidu, not many waived off rents to benefit tenants.”

He said the government must issue a notification to the house owners receiving kidu benefits to waive off rents.

A Pasakha resident, Sunita Rai, who runs a dairy shop in the heart of Phuentsholing town, said goods at her shop would have been damaged now. “It would have been good if we were allowed to supply.”

She said some dairy suppliers were able to supply but she never got the opportunity to do that during all three lockdowns in Phuentsholing.

Sunita is also worried about Nu 20,000 monthly rent for the shop space.

Her husband is a taxi driver and doesn’t earn.

A cosmetic shop owner, Sujata, said she had spent a huge amount to restock and is now worried about the expiry date.

“The government officials will come for checking after the lockdown and dispose all our goods due to the expiry date,” she said, adding that’s how they will incur loss even if normalcy returns.

She said she would not ask anything from the government but two months into lockdown is changing the narrative. “Rents for the shop and house are other problems.”

A shopkeeper said there were many small shops that are allowed to sell vegetables.

“We should also be given chance,” she said. “It must be given turn-wise.”

Phuentsholing is currently divided into three mega zones and the third mass screening is ongoing since June 10. As of June 13, a total of 15,159 individuals were tested. The mass screening will conclude today and the outcome will decide the lockdown relaxations.

However, as the mass screening continues, positive cases are still emerging from the community. Just yesterday, Phuentsholing saw seven positive cases from the community.

On June 15, Phuentsholing saw six positive cases and three were detected from the flu clinic, which means from the community.

By Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Edited by Tashi Dema