They worry about bringing in stocks from across the border

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

Until dusk yesterday, Phuentsholing didn’t witness any panic buying although news of lockdown in India had many worrying.

By 6:30pm, stores, wholesales and retail shops saw many customers rushing to buy essentials.

Tashi Departmental Store located at the heart of the town, which saw only a number of customers during the day bustled with customers in the evening. Many queued at the billing counters.

Although many store owners claimed the rush yesterday was a decrease from what it was on March 23, the first day of the gate closure, most of their rice stocks had exhausted yesterday.

Tashi Departmental Store’s manager said they finished the rice stock by yesterday evening and are expecting to restock it today.

Zimdra Impex, one of the largest departmental stores also had a few number of customers during the daytime yesterday. But it increased in the evening.

A staff said that the store saw a massive rush on Monday. Some bought about five to six bags of rice. The store had to restrict people from buying more than a bag of rice to make sure there is proper distribution.

Rice, oil, salt and sugar are the most bought items.

According to the staff, trade officials are also enquiring about the stocks time and again.

Meanwhile, many shopkeepers said they are worried about bringing in stocks from across the border.

The owner of RR Enterprise said she sold all the rice on Monday. She is wondering how to bring additional stocks the business stocked at Hasimara.

HD Enterprise at Phuensum Lam also ran out of its rice stock yesterday. “We have already ordered but it has to come from Hasimara,” the shopkeeper said. “I don’t know how it would be brought.”

With the gates sealed on March 23 and the lockdown in India, the growing concerns among the shopkeepers in the town is the lack of labourers to help transport, load and unload goods and commodities.

A grocery shop owner, Tashi Wangyel, said that they are having a difficult time without labourers.

“We are receiving orders from Mongar but there is no one to load now,” he said, adding that he has enough stocks in the godown. “But we don’t have labourers.”

On the first day of the gate closure on March 23, about 676 labourers exited Phuentsholing.