Update: The evacuees of the July 20 flood have vacated the vegetable sheds they were occupying for last three weeks.
Following complaints from vegetable vendors, the evacuees were asked to vacate the vegetable sheds by August 5.
While they have complied, they are now worried about how to re-begin their lives and where to continue their businesses.
Shopkeeper Choki Wangmo has been running from one place to another looking for a shop space to sell her remaining stock of goods. Having stocked her shop items at a relative’s place in Darjaythang, about five kilometres away towards Gelephu, Choki has come to her village in Zhemgang. She brought along a few sacks of goods to sell in the village.
Her biggest worry is not being able to repay her bank loan which she had availed to open a garment and shoe shop just a few months before the flood. She availed the loan after her old bar was completely razed to ground by the 2015 fire. She has a total loan of Nu 450,000 from the Bhutan Development Bank Ltd (BDBL), part of which was availed in her mother’s name.
She said that she tried all means but has not found a way to restart her business yet. “I’ve been facing disaster after disaster,” she said. “First my dad got kidnapped in 2014, then my shop was razed by fire in 2015 and now I’m homeless.”
Choki Wangmo added that the dzongkhag administration should at least allow them to finish selling their remaining stock of goods from the vegetable sheds. She said that they would make space for the vegetable vendors during the weekends but if during weekdays they could be allowed to sell their goods.
Another shopkeeper, Anjana is happy that she has found a house on rent. But her concerns remain. She has a Nu 150,000 loan from BDBL to repay. She said if they are given space to clear their stock, they would be able to earn an income and also look for other means to earn.
“If we can clear our remaining stock, we’ll be at least able to clear our loans,” she said. “I’ve goods worth more than Nu 300,000.”
However the shopkeepers are yet to approach the dzongkhag administration.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Sarpang