An ice cream vendor in Gelephu, after suffering a loss of Nu 10,000, have appealed to the Road Safety And Transport Authority (RSTA) to intervene and help him seek reimbursement from a public service transport provider.

The vendor, in his statement to the RSTA, claimed that Bumpa transport that plies between Gelephu and Phuentsholing broke down on August 14 and reached Gelephu the next day. He alleged that due to this, his ice cream got damaged. “If the bus reached its destination on time, I would not have suffered the loss.”

But Gelephu residents say that this was not the only incident of the bus breaking down.

A resident, Nidup, 35, who used the bus service recently said that had the route of travel been within the country, the frequent breakdown would not be worrying, but it is a concern when it is on the Assam highway. “Bhutanese vehicles have already been facing a lot of problems along the Assam highway and vehicles can’t afford to breakdown,” he said.

On the August 14 incident, the bus broke down in Assam, about 22km before reaching Gelephu. While some passengers made their own transit arrangement, the bus driver helped get a lift for some of passengers.

Clarifying the breakdown, the bus driver, Dawa, said the bus’s brake failed and to avoid risking the passengers’ life, he stopped to repair.

He said that the bus was maintained the same evening but Assam police did not allow him to travel. “That’s why I reached Gelephu only the next day.”

Bumpa transport has two buses plying between Gelephu and Phuentsholing at 10am. The other bus was also reported to be frequently breaking down.

The other driver, Gyem Tshering, said the bus used to break down sometimes on the way but it was maintained and has always reached the destination.

He said that most of the time it was a flat tyre that caused the delay in reaching the destination on time.  “The bus I drive did not give a problem for almost two months now. I check every day.”

The driver also said that he now carries at least two spare tyres.

RSTA officials in Gelephu said the buses undergo a periodic fitness test.

They also claim that they conduct a pre-departure inspection as mandated.

The regional transport officer, Sonam Chophel, said that the bus owners inform them as and when there is a breakdown so that transit could be arranged.

Meanwhile, RSTA officials could not intervene to help reimburse the loss of the ice cream vendor, claiming that the vendor did not make a reservation to transport his consignment.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang