Lhakpa Quendren

Gelephu – To facilitate uninterrupted export and import, a 100 metric tonnes (MT) private weighbridge will be installed in Gelephu to supplement the existing weighbridge at the Gelephu dry port stockyard. 

The decision comes following concerns raised by the exporters due to frequent breakdown of the existing Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) weighbridge. And the old weighbridge near the border gate, operated by the Regional Revenue and Customs Office (RRCO), Gelephu, has also become defunct.

Gelephu Thrompon Tshering Norbu said that a boulder exporter has put up a proposal to install a weighbridge at the site of the old weighbridge, which has remained redundant. “The RRCO also agreed to privatisation plans. It is important to support to ensure convenience.”

He said that the application has been forwarded to the National Land Commission for approval after obtaining consent from the RRCO. “As it is the state’s land, we have to process for lease. We will allocate the land to the applicant once we receive the approval from the Land Commission.”

“If we have an alternative weighbridge, it can be a backup in case any weighbridge becomes dysfunctional,” Tshering Dorji said, adding that the weighbridge facility is very important to exporters which greatly benefits them.

To facilitate the export of boulders and aggregates, the Gelephu thromde also provided land at the stockyard to the BCCI for the installation weighbridge in 2021. However, a 100 MT weighbridge installed at Nu 2 million causes inconvenience due to frequent breakdowns.

For instance, the recent breakdown of the weighbridge has caused disruption in exports for three days. And the repair work takes a few days to be completed due to a lack of national experts.

A boulder exporter said that the lack of alternative weighbridge has been a major concern among the exporters. “If we have to solely depend on one weighbridge, it is problematic because when it becomes defunct, the exports and imports have to be halted until repairing works are done.”

“There is also a high risk of lightning strikes in the southern belt, which would damage the weighbridge. Then we have to hold the exports for weeks or even for months. Therefore, an additional weighbridge is seen as necessary,” said another exporter.

The old weighbridge near the checkpost was reported damaged in the early hours of July 1 due to lightning strikes. It was initially used for weighing consignments, and later the service was extended to the public for weighing boulders, stone chips, and gravels, which were being exported to Bangladesh.

According to the Gelephu RRCO, the site has been surrendered to the thromde administration, and the weighing machines were auctioned after transferring them to the erstwhile Department of National Properties. “The machine was not repaired because it had been in use for many years.”

The old non-functional weighbridge has a weighing capacity of 80 MT, which could weigh up to 14 wheelers. However, the capacity will be extended to 100 MT with the private operator.