Yangyel Lhaden 

Vegetable vendors operating from temporary sheds in Olakha were relocated to vegetable markets in the zones constructed by Thimphu Thromde between July 1 and August 1.

Most of them, not even a month operating from the markets in the zones, are already unhappy with the poor customer turn out and many are worried about paying rent.

A thromde official said that the space in Olakha was unfit for commercial activities. “Moreover, there were emerging issues such as parking on the road, waste, and the risk of a fire hazard.”

He said that the thromde looked into the welfare of vendors. The vendors were provided space to operate in vegetable zone markets in Changjalu, lower Babesa, and Jungzhina where they have better facilities.

Jungzhina vegetable shed

“In Olakha, vendors did not have proper water or toilet facilities. It was not environmentally friendly,” the official said.

A vendor, Purni Maya operating from the market in Jungzhina, said she was thankful to thromde for providing a good space. “But the thromde could have relocated us after the pandemic as our business is severely affected. I cannot even fetch Nu 500 selling vegetables on a day at present.” Another vendor in the same location said that the most she earned in a day was Nu 1,000 and that was once in a while.

The rent of vegetable sheds in the three zones ranges from Nu 3,300 to Nu 3,700. Vendors in Jungzhina and lower Babesa said they were hoping the thromde could waive the rent until their business picked up.

Vendors in Jungzhina said they lived near Olakha and thromde could have relocated them to vegetable markets closer to their homes. All of them travel by taxi to the vegetable market and back home.

Deoki Gurung, a vendor in Jungzhina, during relocation of Centenary Farmers Market (CFM)  to zones requested for a space in Changjalu but was denied.

She said that since the CFM vendors refused to move to the vegetable markets in the zones, they were provided with the sheds. However, thromde officials said they had a government directive to prioritise CFM vendors when allocating space in vegetable markets in zones.  “The remaining spaces in zone markets were provided to Olakha vendors through a lucky dip.”

Last year, in an attempt to decongest CFM, the thromde announced that all the vendors operating at the CFM would have to move out to designated vegetable markets in various zones across the thromde.

Vendors in Jungzhina said they hoped the business would pick up in the coming days. Their business at present is threatened by the grocery shops selling vegetables. “Only when they stop, people will come to us to buy vegetables,”  a vendor said. She added a signboard for the zone market would help promote their business.

In Changjalu, the business is better. A vendor in Changjalu said the business was better in Changjalu compared to Jungzhina and lower Babesa. “Our only problem is the lack of parking space.”

Thimphu thromde constructed six medium and eight minor vegetable markets and allocated them to the vendors to date.

Edited by Tshering Palden