YK Poudel   

Following the recent issue of vehicle congestion at the Ramtokto fuel retail outlet which witnesses over 2,000 vehicles in a day, the State Trading Corporation of Bhutan Limited (STCBL) in consultation with the Traffic Division, Royal Bhutan Police, has implemented stricter rules for public safety.

The fuel retail outlet located on the side of the national highway, at Rama, is seen as an accident-prone area. A recent social media post went viral where the author raised concerns about safety given the location and the traffic.

General Manager of Human Resource and Administration, STCBL, Sangay Tshering said that STCBL consulted the police, Dantak and the surface transport department to ensure public safety and improve services. “STCBL did not receive any written complaints on the service failure and major accidents at the fuel outlet as of now,” he said. “Public safety is also our concern. The area will soon have two trained staff from STCBL who will monitor the traffic movement in the area.”

Cooperation, he said, from the public is vital for success. The stakeholders are advocating traffic rule violations and speed controls.

General Manager of Petroleum Division, Sugan Pradhan said that the problem was with the location. “The one-way vehicle movement is an issue. We have proposed for monitored entry and exit to the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority,” he said. If our proposal is considered, there will be dedicated entry and exit for vehicles.”

The outlet started in March 2020 on the highway and is open 24 hours to customers with CCTV surveillance.

According to traffic officials, the number of vehicles coming for re-fueling is overwhelming during morning and evening hours. The traffic division has strictly implemented “no parking – no standing” in the area to reduce traffic congestion. Many drivers agree and support the decision.

One driver said that there are instances when commuters remove the traffic barricade or the traffic sign boards to trespass infringing the traffic rules.

A driver said that there is enough space in the area to develop a spacious entry and exit point. “With a little investment, STCBL can smoothen the traffic movement,” he said.

Another motorist said that the fuel station is crowded because motorists do not trust the quality of fuel sold at other stations. “Authorities should monitor the quality of fuel sold. This could reduce the burden on the Ramtokto fuel station.”

Others, waiting for fuel at Ramtokto, said that more fuel stations should be opened in the capital. “The vehicle number has doubled in the last five years. There are not many fuel stations and this is contributing to the rush.”