Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The transhipment facility for goods exiting and entering Phuentsholing has shifted to Sorchen yesterday.

Sorchen is 17kms towards Thimphu from Phuentsholing.

The facility was moved from Rinchending to Sorchen because the area up to Sorchen falls under high-risk area in the new demarcation of high-risk zones and it was only appropriate to shift the spot.

Although some said it would result in increasing transportation costs, many drivers and transporters yesterday said that it was too early to draw that conclusion.

On October 20, the Southern Covid-19 Task Force in Phuentsholing announced opening the facility at Sorchen.

It gives two options of transportation: switching the driver or the escort modality.

Switching the driver  modality

The driver from the low-risk area will drive down to Sorchen. A Phuentsholing-based driver will take the vehicle from there to Phuentsholing, pick up the goods and drive back to Sorchen and return the vehicle to the previous driver. Covid-19 protocols are followed

This modality is for those vehicles picking up goods from private warehouses and shops in Phuentsholing.

This method was also used at Rinchending and many said hiring drivers between Phuentsholing and Rinchending was expensive. The cost has now further increased.

One driver who had come from Lhamoizingkha with a client said he paid about Nu 2,000 when the station was at Rinchending.

“From Sorchen today, I paid Nu 3,000,” he said.

The increase, he said was mostly because of the taxi fare the drivers pay while going to Sorchen in the morning and returning to Phuentsholing.

A driver in Phuentsholing, Yeshey said, “Taxis charge Nu 1,000 for the return trip.

“I charged Nu 3,500,” he said, adding the cost increased.

Considering the taxi fare and other costs, which includes vehicle disinfection, income is reduced to Nu 2,000, he said.

Escort modality

Vehicles are escorted in three batches to transhipment areas at Allay LCS in Pasakha, Mini Dry Port, Truck Parking area, FCBL Auction Yard and Phuentsholing HSS. Once loaded, vehicles shall be escorted back up to Sorchen. The drivers have to remain in their vehicles throughout.

Yesterday, there were few who switched drivers and did not use the escort service.

A truck driver, Jigme chose to switch driver thinking about the discomfort in following the Covid-19 protocols with the escort modality.

“I heard that we have to stay inside the vehicle for a long time,” he said. “It is hot in Phuentsholing.”