Although vegetable vendors in Phuentsholing are happy to settle down in a new three-storied structure since October 14, they are not optimistic and pointed out several issues.

Vendors said the arrangement has to be changed explaining that today the  stalls of non-Bhutanese vendors and Bhutanese vendors are all mixed. They also told Kuensel that segregation of fruit stalls from vegetables and organic and non-organic produces would give the new market a better business scope.

Namgay, a vendor, said it would be good to have the non-Bhutanese and Bhutanese stalls segregated.

Another vendor, Yugu Maya Ghalley, said Bhutanese vendors couldn’t compete with non-Bhutanese vendors.

“They deal in huge volume of vegetables,” she said adding that non-Bhutanese vendors often spoiled the rates with discounts. “We bring small amount of produces and sell at the same rates.”

However, Yugu Maya Ghalley said the new vegetable market shed has benefitted all vendors. The stalls are bigger and the sitting arrangements better.

A non-Bhutanese vendor, who has been keeping vegetable stalls for 35 years on a Bhutanese license, Pradip Das said the new infrastructure does not have any problems.

“Unlike the old market, this one is safe and cool,” he said.

Sonam Tshering, another vendor said security should be boosted. The stalls also should be reshuffled for better arrangement, he added.

Meanwhile, vendors said the lucky draw system was unfair and some vendors were favoured and given stalls together. However, there was a committee that conducted the lucky draw.

Thromde official, Jamtsho Drukpa, who is also a committee member, said that the lucky draw was conducted in the presence of vendors and other committee members.

“Some got on the second floor and they could be complaining,” he said.

Some vendors had got their stalls at the second floor and the sales were not as good. As there were empty stalls on the first floor, those who got stalls at second floor have also shifted to first floor now.

Jamtsho Drukpa said that vendors could have written to seek clarification.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said the shifting of vendors to the new infrastructure was done as an emergency, as the old market area was required for road construction.

“The current arrangements are not final and it will have to be changed later,” he said. “We know we will have to keep it organised.”

The new vegetable market is also still under construction. Once the construction is over, re-arrangements would be made.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai also said that the lucky draws were conducted in the committee members’ presence and was done transparently. Nobody raised anything, he added.

Rajesh Rai   | Phuentsholing