KP Sharma and Suraj Gurung

The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) and the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority (BCTA) have initiated a statewide drug test for professional driving licence (PDL) holders to protect the safety of all individuals on the road. 

The project, which began on May 30, aims to address the country’s growing worry over drug use.

The initial phase of the test will target PD licence holders and commercial drivers in nine dzongkhags, including bus and taxi drivers. However, the programme’s scope is scheduled to broaden, including civil servants, corporate and private employees, and military forces members, among others.

Colonel Passang Dorji, deputy chief of police (DCOP), said that the increase in drug use among drivers has led to an increase in road accidents, posing a concern to public safety. 

“The increased presence of drug users has a negative impact on the country and its economy, and we are determined to prevent this at any cost,” he said.

Authorities hope to decrease and control drug addiction among the public through drug testing strategy, which is expected to eventually contribute to a safer driving environment. 

Thanks to increased enforcement and surveillance, the police have made significant headway in combatting drug-related issues throughout the years. Colonel Passang Dorji credited the establishment of police drug squads, frequent border surveillance, and the implementation of integrated checkpoints (ICPs) with reducing the movement of drugs throughout the society.

BCTA officials will contact drivers to schedule their drug tests at the nearest designated drug test centre. Drivers have the option to admit drug use and will be referred to the treatment centre at JDWNRH.

Colonel Passang Dorji stressed that the intention of the initiative is not to criminalise individuals but rather to intervene in a timely manner to provide support and enhance road safety.

Regarding the frequency of the tests, Colonel Passang Dorji said that a decision has yet to be reached. However, authorities have made it clear that drug tests can be conducted anywhere if a driver is suspected of being under the influence of drugs.

“It is our collective responsibility to actively assist the authorities in their mission to eradicate the menace of drug abuse,” Colonel Passang Dorji said.