Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Starting November 1, people entering and exiting the pedestrian terminal in Phuentsholing will be charged a nominal user fee of Nu 10 per person. This will be applicable to both Bhutanese and foreigners.

The regional immigration office, Phuentsholing, announced this on October 23.

As per the announcement, the user fee is applicable for every instance of entry or exit. This means, if a person from Phuentsholing enters Jaigaon, he or she will pay a user fee of Nu 10, and another Nu 10 while returning – which is a total of Nu 20.

“Individuals are urged to bring the exact amount in cash as there will be no provision to provide change,” the announcement stated.  However, there will be a separate provision for individuals who wish to pay electronically.

The director general with the department of immigration, Pema L Dorji, said that the user fee is for “upkeep and maintenance of the terminal.”

“Our aim is to make the pedestrian terminal a fully self-sustaining one,” he said. “Given the economic situation, it is to not put any financial implications on the government.”

Pema L Dorji said that the fee collection will be ploughed back into many recurrent expenses at the terminal such as electricity bills, internet bandwidth charge and air-conditioning, among others.

The terminal also has employed cleaners, who need to be paid. After the opening on September 23, the pedestrian terminal has seen wear and tear, which required repairs and maintenance works.

Immigration officials said that a back-up generator is also being kept ready during the times of power outages.

“It is a nominal amount and people will be able to contribute to the terminal’s sustenance,” Pema L Dorji said.

Most people in the town do not have problem with this user fee. Many say it is a good decision.

A businessman, Tshering Dorji, said that this is a very good move by the immigration office. “I fully support this.”

Thousands of people enter and exit on a daily basis.

The terminal was built at the cost of Nu 183 millions.