A multi-sectorial taskforce has been formed under Phuentsholing thromde to collectively enhance efforts to monitor and inspect illicit sale and distribution of controlled substances in the border town.

The taskforce include members from the thromde office, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), customs, immigration, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), and trade.

This is an outcome of a three-day consultative meeting Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) conducted last week. BNCA and the taskforce signed an agreement towards “institutionalisation of drugs and tobacco control programme within the functions of the thromde administration.”

Deputy chief programme officer with BNCA, Chhimi Dorji said that so far BNCA spearheaded all of the drug control programmes throughout the country along with or through support of its stakeholders particularly, the RBP in areas of law enforcement, the hospitals in treatment, and the NGOs in rehabilitation services.

“Most other stakeholders, however, participate when required or asked,” he said.

Chhimi Dorji said although these relevant agencies were already doing their bit, it was confined to their own enforcement areas, and there was lack of a consolidated effort.

“With this agreement, we are consolidating them,” he said.

“A joint effort is powerful.”

Through the initiative, the consolidated thromde team would also advocate and sensitise the communities under their jurisdiction on the harms and ill-effects of such substances.

The taskforce would also facilitate employment, recreational and skills development opportunities to the vulnerable youth within their jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, BNCA will continue to provide policy direction, periodic monitoring and evaluation, capacity development, and essential funding support to the thromde and the team.

BNCA would replicate similar programmes in all dzongkhags and municipalities. The UNICEF country office in Thimphu has provided funding support for this pilot project.

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing