Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Traffic congestion is a major problem in Phuentsholing, the country’s biggest commercial hub. It is worse during winter. But this could change.

To ease traffic congestion, the second gate was opened as entry gate for vehicles carrying taxable goods and commodities yesterday. The second gate will also allow entry for light vehicles. The second gate is at the Baubazaar and connects the Northern Bypass Road (NBR) near the STCBL office.

Government officials from both Phuentsholing and from across the border inaugurated the opening. Officials from police, drungkhag, customs and thromde in Phuentsholing attended the opening, while the superintendent of police from Alipuduar district and various other local authorities of Jaigaon were present.

With this move, the second gate is now directly connected to the mini-dry port (MDP), which was completed in February this year. Vehicles carrying taxable goods would not have to enter the core town area.

Prior to yesterday’s move, the second gate only functioned as entry for light vehicles.

The main gate will cater to all other vehicles that do not ferry taxable goods and commodities. It will also function as exit for heavy vehicles.

At the opening yesterday, the superintendent of police in Phuentsholing, Colonel Namgay Dorji said that both the counterparts welcome the move.

“We will see how this will work,” he said, explaining it will be on a trial basis for two days and changes would be done accordingly.

Meanwhile, the MDP is currently being managed by Phuentsholing Thromde office on a trial basis.

Phuentsholing Thromde executive secretary (ES) Lungten Jamtsho said the MDP was initiated on the trial basis following the discussions with the Indian counterpart about the need for opening the second gate for decongesting the town.

“That’s why we immediately shifted the customs and clearing agents at MDP,” he said.

Since the ownership of the dry port is with the department of trade, ES said they will have a final round of meeting at the end of this month to decide the operation of the MDP.

Lungten Jamtsho also said the gate would decongest the core area and contribute to easing overall congestion.

“With this opening and with the Northern Bypass Road project already towards completion, heavy vehicles would not require to enter the town,” he said.

The ES also said that Bhutanese officials have already shared with the counterpart officials about allowing trucks ferrying boulder from the second gate. Exit of trucks ferrying boulders are currently allowed only after 8pm from the main gate.

ES Lungten Jamtsho said counterpart officials are also supportive about the idea and agreed in-principle.

“Boulder trucks can directly ply from the new Omchhu bridge and connect at the second gate without having to enter into the town,” he said, adding this consequent move would bring great relief to the congestion in the border town of Phuentsholing.