Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

The country’s only two high-density polythene (HDP) pipe manufacturing companies in Phuentsholing are facing production difficulties as the flow of raw materials has been hit due to Covid-19.

Bhutan Plastic Industry (BPI) and Bhutan Polythene Company Limited (BPCL) are the two manufacturing companies.

The owner of BPI, Rabten Wangyel, said that it is the peak season when government agencies start floating supply orders.

“But we have very limited raw materials,” he said, adding that supply of raw materials was affected even before the lockdown. “Our raw materials have almost exhausted now.”

Currently, BPI manufactures just 20mm and 25mm pipes, which is maintained so that the manufacturing unit kept on running. The establishment usually manufactures 16 different types of HDP pipes.

While there is increasing demand, Rabten Wangyel said that they are not entertaining bulk purchases. This is to stop people from hoarding and profiteering, he said, explaining a customer is allowed 10 rolls of HDP pipes, which is also to provide widespread reach of the product.

BPI has already ordered raw materials and was expecting two truckloads next week. However, it is unsure if they will get the materials.

The other manufacturer, Bhutan Polythene Company Limited (BPCL) was able to bring 30 metric tonnes (MT) of raw materials yesterday.

Its general manager, Tshewang Dorji said the production had stopped for more than a month now.

However, the official said that it would be difficult to meet the market demand. BPCL will supply those orders from the government agencies that are due. Fresh supplies are not possible, Tshewang Dorji added.

Usually, BPCL, the oldest HDP pipe manufacturer in Bhutan would supply more than 80-90MT of pipes in a month.

Meanwhile, should this continue, government’s water flagship and other Rural Water Supply Scheme (RWSS) projects across the country could be affected.

Gups in Chukha and Samtse said the shortage would eventually impact the ongoing water projects in villages. However, many gewogs do not have ongoing projects.

Darla gup Mil Kumar Mongar said that although pipes were already supplied for Kezari RWSS, there is requirement for repair and maintenance. “However, it is a minor problem,” he said.

Gup Jagath Bahadur Ghalley of Tading gewog, Samtse said an RWSS project has not been completed at Ngawang Dramtoe village due to shortages of pipe. The project should have been completed by now, he added.