Rajesh Rai | Samtse

Three months after the last lockdown was lifted, business is resuming to its usual norm in Samtse town, which suffered repeated lockdowns because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

More new shops have also opened with the completion of building constructions.

Bal Bahadur Ghalley, who opened a small grocery about a month ago, said things look good.

“I have opened a shop for the first time,” he said.

Bal Bahadur was sceptical in the beginning but the business eventually grew. He purchases grocery items from local wholesalers in Samtse and from Phuentsholing.

As a centre for the dzongkhag, customers from Tashichholing, Dorokha and Gomtu also visit Samtse town for shopping.

A restaurant owner, Rinzin Gyelmo, said business is normal after the lockdown was fully relaxed.

“There are people now,” she said, adding that she had started her restaurant about seven months ago.

A garment shop owner, another newcomer into the business, Nidup Dorji, said sales go up and down.

“But compared to before, Samtse town and economy has seen some major changes,” he said.

With a monthly rent of Nu 42,000 per month in a newly completed building, Nidup Dorji said another lockdown will bankrupt him.

Meanwhile, old shop owners say that more shops are coming up and that it is a welcome change.

The owner of Jai Prakash Shop said people will have more choice in terms of varieties of commodities and prices.

“Customers are divided, so the sales are not as much as what it used to be,” he said. “But right now if the sales are down it is also because of the monsoon as most people don’t come out.”

The owner of Goyal and Sons Grocery Store said people have choices to buy commodities from Phuentsholing and from across the border.

“Gomtu people used to come here, but with the Phuentsholing road open and relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, only 10 percent of Gomtu residents come.”

Meanwhile, residents are waiting for the completion of the town.

The old town was dismantled and the development of the new double-storey arcade town began in 2015. There are 37 plots for construction but most are outside the core town.

Town residents and plot owners said the commencement of the Dhamdum Industrial Park would bring bigger economic opportunities.