Chhimi Dema 

Residents along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway are worried of vehicles transporting goods stopping along the route.

The central Covid-19 taskforce’s transport-escort modality mentions that drivers of vehicles transporting goods are allowed to come out of their vehicles only when they reach the designated loading and unloading points in Thimphu.

With the press release from the taskforce not mentioning if the drivers can stop en route or not, residents complain that drivers are stopping to buy things, pick up and drop parcels.

They claim such activities pose risk to the communities, as drivers interact with various people. “They could carry the virus and transmit it,” a hotelier said.

A resident in Gedu, Chukha, said that some truckers stopped to shop and dropped parcels. “We are all at risk. Even though DeSsups are patrolling, they can cover only a few areas.”

Chukha dzongdag, Minjur Dorji, said drivers travelling from red zones undergo test to ensure minimal risk of transmission.

He said since vehicles do not travel in convoy, it is not practical to keep track of every vehicle.

With drivers experiencing difficulties to get loads from Sorchen, they have to wait anywhere between Sorchen and Chuzom. “Drivers staying in rented apartments were instructed to stay indoors as much as possible.”

The transport-escort modality was implemented from January 3 to allow transportation of goods to Thimphu and transit of goods from Thimphu to other dzongkhags.

It was implemented to “reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and ensure seamless flow of essential items during the lockdown.”

The vehicles transporting goods entering from the south were provided escort service starting from welcome gate of Thimphu and vehicles from the east were provided escort service starting from Hongtsho to the respective loading and unloading areas.

Truckers, however, said that they are not allowed to stop in red zone, the loading and unloading point but can stop in other areas.