Nima | Gelephu

Exporters in Gelephu are close to completing the ground development works for the stockyard near the industrial service centre that would be used for the export of aggregates soon.

The development of the site is carried out in consultation with the dzongkhag administration, Bhutan Export Association and National Resource Development Corporation Limited, among other relevant agencies.

Over 14 exporters have contributed for the development of the site as they prepare to resume the export of boulders that came to a halt since March.

An exporter from Gelephu, Chencho Gyeltshen, said the exporters came together to start developing the stockyard while the dzongkhag administration is working to complete the required formalities.

“The export market in India remains uncertain because of the lockdown. And only a few suppliers are willing to start the trade,” he said.

Exporters in collaboration with the dzongkhag taskforce and the relevant agencies resumed the export of boulders for one day before the nationwide lockdown was imposed last month.

Around six truckloads of boulders were exported that day.

“There was a high risk of getting exposed to the infection,” said Chencho Gyeltshen.

Once the stockyard development is completed, which is located below ISC along Sarpang-Gelephu highway, Bhutanese trucks will ship the gravels to the stockyard from the source.

Trucks from India will collect the aggregates from the stockyard  that would be operated under the containment facility. Ground development for the site is almost complete and the works to build containment infrastructure are underway.

The development of over five-acre site began on September 2.

The exporters had submitted a proposal to the dzongkhag administration and the relevant agencies to develop the stockyard on the cost-sharing basis.

Programme officer with Bhutan export association, Guru Wangchuk, said stakeholders concerned are in the process of finalising the plan.

“Export of the boulders would be resumed immediately after the completion of the stockyard. Proper containment facility and health protocols would be developed,” he said.

Kuensel learned that the plan to develop stockyard on a cost-sharing basis would be jointly supported by the dzongkhag administration, National Resource Development Corporation Limited, Bhutan Chamber for Commerce and Industry, and BEA.

Guru Wangchuk said that the same SoPs followed in other southern dzongkhags for the export of boulders would be implemented in Gelephu too.

The stockyard is expected to solve problems faced by the exporters along the Indian highways.

Chencho Gyeltshen said that by allowing Indian trucks to carry aggregates from the stockyard, the problem concerning Bhutanese truckers on the Indian highway would be managed by themselves.

“Bhutanese truckers face unnecessary taxation and harassments along the way. And this would help both local and Indian counterparts involved in export business,” he said.

He added that there was no other option because it would be difficult for Bhutanese truckers to transport boulders during the lockdown. Resuming the export could take time.

A separate resting room for the drivers and weighbridge construction are being planned.

The total export of boulder last year doubled to Nu 4.9B from 2.1B in 2018. In 2017, boulder export value stood at Nu 690 million.