It’s been more than two weeks since the last stock of rice and other essential items was delivered to the Sanam Tshongkhang, the Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCBL) outlet in Sakteng, Trashigang. As of yesterday, only three bags of rice (25kg each) remained.

This was the stock that was brought in some two days before the Prime Minister visited the gewog on May 6. Of the 75 bags of rice brought in, 27 bags were sold to the community after they drew lots.

The shortage of goods at Sanam Tshongkhang is because of the on-going excavation works at the road that leads to the gewog. A horse trail that lies just below the road remains closed because of falling boulders and loose soil in the area. The trail has remained blocked since May

It is only during Sundays when the machines are idle that people travel with their animals clearing their own ways. This however, was expected when officials from the Department of Roads (DoR) cautioned the community before the excavation works began.

Executive engineer with DoR’s Rangjung Subdivision, Karma Tshewang, said that initially there was another area for alignment they had identified for excavation works, which may not have caused severe blocks along the horse trail. “But it was the decision of the community to start the excavation works in the area that runs parallel to the trail.”

This was done because an alternative route existed where both men and animals (horses and cattle) could trek to reach Thrakthi, the nearest road point to the gewog.

Sakteng mangmi, Lhendup said that because the alternative route took almost double of what people take from the horse trail, most opt not to use the route. “There shouldn’t be much problem with the current blocks because we have an alternative route. But people don’t use it because it takes more time.” It takes about four hours from Thrakthi to reach Sakteng along with animals. The alternative route takes at least eight to nine hours.

Meanwhile, as the stock at Sanam Tshongkhang runs out, prices of commodities at the nearby shops escalate. The price of rice bag increases by more than Nu 50.

Community centre operator at Sakteng, Chogyal Norbu, said that since the opening of Sanam Tshongkhang on February 5, most people have stopped stocking up rations especially rice at homes. Following the recent limited stock at Sanam Tshongkhang, residents are seen buying essentials from nearby shops.

FCBL officials in Samdrupjongkhar said that because of the roadblock, there is a shortage of stock at their outlet in Sakteng. One of the officials said they will be supplying the stock as and when they receive requisition from the sales executives of Sanam Tshongkhang.

Since the opening of the outlet, a total of 23,275kgs of rice (931 bags of 25kg each) has been delivered to Sakteng according to FCBL.

Younten Tshedup |  Trashigang