Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

In case there is a lockdown in Phuentsholing, the industrial estate in Pasakha must continue to function. That is if there is no community or local transmission there.

For this, the Covid-19 task force in Phuentsholing has prepared a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on June 22.

The key implementing agencies, as per the SOP, are the Department of Industries (DoI), Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), Phuentsholing Thromde, Ministry of Health (MoH), and Association of Bhutanese Industries (ABI).

The Department of Immigration, Department of Revenue and Customs, and other relevant agencies will support the new move.


General management

As per the SOP, all factories in Pasakha will be allowed to operate during lockdown in Phuentsholing provided there is no community transmission in Pasakha.

“No worker living in Phuentsholing will be allowed to move in or out of Pasakha,” the SOP highlights.

ABI will ensure that the companies maintain a list of workers responsible for operation of the industry during the lockdown.

Industries also must station the workers within the factory premises and provide decent mess and accommodation facilities.

Workers who require to move in and out of the workplace owing to different locations of factory sites will follow containment protocols and transport services provided by the company, the SOP states.

The companies will be allowed four hours of window period daily to collect and drop workers from Pasakha area.

To minimise physical contact, companies will also have to identify pickup and drop points for workers.

The company buses will only transport their workers and ply along the authorised routes within Pasakha. All buses transporting workers will have the thermal screening facilities and provide hand sanitisers. Only non-symptomatic workers will be allowed to board the company buses.

All the drivers engaged in transporting workers will be provided lodging and food facilities within factories or the confined areas. The companies will also ensure that hand-washing facilities are provided within and at entry and exit points of the factory.

“ABI shall enforce the implementation of safety protocols such as hand-washing, social distancing, mandatory use of Druk Trace and PPE in the factory and other workplaces in Pasakha,” as per the SOP.

Factories will also have to identify a focal person (occupational health and safety officer and security person) for Covid-19 and they will be trained by the health ministry. RBP supported by Desuups and other relevant agencies shall monitor the compliance of all safety and containment protocols.


Import and export management

As per the SOP, there will be no import and export owing to lockdown in Phuentsholing, except for import of raw materials for industries manufacturing gas, animal feed, food and cooking oil.

Companies will have to restrict the number of vehicles to their daily loading and unloading capacity to a manageable limit. All the Indian vehicles will also have to return from Pasakha on the same day.

The SOP states that overnight halt shall not be permitted, but in case of breakdown the drivers will be kept in the holding room.

“Should any vehicle break down, RBP will allow the driver to repair the vehicle implementing containment protocol. ABI will inform the concerned company to depute a specialized team to repair the vehicle, if required,” according to the SOP.

Further, the SOP also maintains that the documents relating to import will be placed on a tray, which will then be photographed for reference and deposited into a box for 12 hours. The security personnel who photograph the documents will wash hands after handling the consignments.

Security personnel of the company will direct vehicles to its unloading bay. Each company will nominate one person per shift to manage the unloading of the goods. If the unloading is done manually, the nominated in-charge will ensure the unloading team has no contact with the driver and his assistant.

Once the unloading is completed, the SOP states that all the workers will be required to follow the containment protocols. ABI will escort the vehicles back until the Rinchending check post, from where RBP will take over.


Ration management

Meanwhile, respective companies will have to maintain adequate stock of essential items such as rice, oil, pulses, salt, tea, milk powder, spices, flour, sugar, soya and toiletries items for two months.

Establishments intending to procure essential items can place online orders to the retailers identified by RTIO or FCBL. Delivery of essential items to respective factories will be encouraged.

ABI will coordinate with the industries and relevant authorised suppliers for supply of vegetables and grocery items once a week, according to the SOP.


Petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL), and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) management

The SOP says that the respective companies will maintain one month’s POL and LPG requirement within factory premises as per the safety measures.

To replenish the POL supplies, the respective companies will have to collect their supplies in barrels from Pasakha BoD under strict supervision of respective factories. LPG will be delivered to the factories on demand.

The two gas manufacturing industries in Pasakha, AHA Oxy and Quality Gas, will supply the required industrial gas to the factories as per the containment protocols.


Health and safety management

Meanwhile, respective companies will have to procure and use thermal screening facilities in their workplaces. If there are any emergencies (signs and symptoms) of Covid-19 amongst the workers, Covid-19 focal persons from the respective factories will contact the health ministry.

The focal persons of the respective factories will maintain stock of first aid medical supplies in the factory premises as per the advise of medical officials.

RBP will escort vehicles en route to Phuentsholing from Rinchending, while ABI will maintain the exit record of the vehicles at Rinchending.