Yangchen C Rinzin

Although the implementation of movement card, which would allow easy access to essential items, was suspended in Thimphu the government will allow people to use the card from today only to buy vegetables.

The use of movement card was suspended right after it was distributed after two people tested positive of Covid-19 in Paro.

The cards were distributed to more than 30,000 people in two days in 45 zones.

Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said that when a toll-free 1010 was installed for people to clear doubts on the zoning, more than 50 percent called to complain.

People complained about having run out of vegetable stock and not getting vegetables that they ordered.

Realising that people are faced with challenges, the government following His Majesty’s command has decided to distribute vegetables based on zones and allow people to come out with the card to buy vegetables.

“The challenges indicate that there was short in supply of vegetables and we failed in the beginning because of poor supply strategy,” Lyonpo said. “This was because of the lack of human resources and vehicles to deliver vegetables.”

The distribution of the vegetables, which will be carried out zone-wise, is expected to begin between 9.30am and 11am today. Additional vehicles and people were deployed yesterday.

“We’re confident that this time the delivery will be smooth. We have otherwise enough supply of vegetables as of now,” Lyonpo said.

Almost 25,000 packets of vegetables were packed as of last evening. There are two packets costing Nu 350 and Nu 450. The government will inform the people when the distribution starts. Lyonpo urged people to practice safety measure like wearing a face mask and maintain distance when they come out to buy vegetables.

Each household should come out only as per the time period they are allotted in each card. The cards have specific timings for three hours – from 8-11am, 12-3pm and 4-7pm. A cardholder cannot go to another zone to buy vegetables.

“We’ll try our best to ensure all the people in their own zones get the vegetables, and we’ll continue to supply every day. They must have patience if the vehicles do not reach their area. I urge people to let those people without vegetables to buy first. If you’ve stock, you can wait for the delivery next day,” Lyonpo said.

For zones without Bank of Bhutan ATMs, the bank will bring cash to the sale location. Those with accounts in other banks can also withdraw through the BoB representatives. Residents can pay either in cash or through online.

However, grocery shops are not allowed to open. Lyonpo said that there was still a high risk of community transmission in Thimphu, and until confirmed the movement will be restricted.

“If people do not follow the safety measures, then we may have to suspend this strategy too,” Lyonpo said, adding the decision to continue with the card would depend on people’s behaviour.

Lyonpo also shared that there were several reports of shopkeepers and wholesalers hiking the price of essential commodities. The licences of those shops have been cancelled.

Meanwhile, with many poultry farmers faced with issues of running out of Karma feeds, Lyonpo said that the government would be supplying to other dzongkhags soon.

“About 23 trucks were stranded in Phuentsholing so, the stock couldn’t be sent. Now the drivers have been tested negative, and trucks were brought to Thimphu. It will be dispatched in the next few days.”