Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
A 30-year-old-man, who has been stranded in Phuentsholing since the lockdown began on August 11 will not forget in his entire life the night of August 26.
Out of his hotel, without a proper place, he had to sleep at the Zangdopelri Lhakang.
“It rained that night and there were a lot of mosquitoes,” he said.
He was in a hotel since August 10, one day prior to the lockdown. He continued in the same hotel until August 26.
While he was going broke each day, there was good news for him that he would be given a pass to travel to Thimphu on August 27.
“A friend of mine then asked me to spend a night at his place,” he said.
“So I went.”
However, to his surprise, the hotel manager had lodged a complaint in the police station that he had run away without paying the bills.
Prior to leaving the hotel, he claimed he had even discussed with the hotel manager to pay the bills once he reached Thimphu but the manager had asked him to pay at least half the bills.
However, on August 26, a vehicle had come to pick up and drop him to his friend’s place. The manager was not at the counter when he checked out.
“I had even informed the person at the counter,” he said.
“But the manager thought I ran away and had come with the police.”
Later, the matter was solved with the hotel manager. However, he was chased away by the people around his friend’s place.
“After that I was homeless,” he said.
“I called 5555 but got no help. Then, I went to Zangdopelri to sleep.”
Next day, he was again taken to police custody for the same pending hotel bills. He paid the bills worth Nu 16,669 after calling his relatives and was let go.
After that, he was placed at a hotel facility sponsored by the government.
A driver from Jabana, Paro also stayed in hotels on his own until August 28. Kado, 33, had come to Phuentsholing on August 10 to drop potatoes.
“I called 5555 so many times but there has been no confirmation yet,” he said.
Kado also said some of his friends, who were stuck after the lockdown, had returned to their respective places.
He said he had to change the hotel when the first one he stayed in was turned into a quarantine facility.
“I haven’t paid the bills to none of these hotels. I have told the owners I would be able to pay only after lockdown when I get some business,” he said.
Kado’s Paro-bound truck, which is also loaded with goods, is still at a parking lot. He fears the goods inside may have been damaged now. Since August 28, Kado has been living in a government-funded hotel facility.
A total of 1,403 people had registered to move out of Phuentsholing. However, not all are considered stranded except for 150. Of the total 414 vehicles left the town, 95 vehicles are stranded.
Meanwhile, with the number of positive cases increasing by the day in red zone Phuentsholing, people stranded here have lost hope of their return any sooner. Many said they are frustrated.
Tshering Dorji, 40, from Paro said he is getting anxious each passing day.
“Government is thinking that they will send us home once the number of cases falls to zero,” he said, adding that it is not possible now.
“Although the hotel bills are paid by the government, the wait is getting too long now. I don’t know about the corona virus but I think I will get another disease here.”
The PMO’s Facebook page yesterday announced that people who are stranded in Phuentsholing, given the increasing number of cases, would be released only after testing to avoid any chance of transmission.
“For those who would like to travel to Phuentsholing, we are trying to work your way in, wary of the fact that you are opting to enter a red zone,” the statement said.
Kado and Tshering Dorji said they have tested negative two times.
Another man, 46, who is also stranded said he shifted to a friend’s place after spending some time in a hotel.
“I’m surprised why despite registration on the first and the second day I was never called, while so many people were sent home in between,” he said.
“I called the helpline numbers and asked them. They said my number on the list has not come. Then they said that I haven’t given my destination details.”
If destination detail was not given, the online registration will never accept the registration in the first place, he pointed out.
The 46-year-old also said that the helpline number 1216 was unable to connect from Tashi Cell number since August 28.