Truckers on Indian roads at risk of Covid-19

Three truckers surrendered for violation of safety protocols

Nima | Gelephu

Ensuring that Bhutanese drivers on the Indian highways are following safety protocols to avoid risk of Covid-19 has become challenging with only two escort officials travelling with a group of truckers.

At least 20 truckers travel everyday from Gelephu to Phuentsholing, Samdrupjongkhar, Nganglam, and Samtse using the roads in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal.

While following the required preventive measures and prescribed regulations, the truckers have to exchange notes at the toll stations and have to come out at the weighing gates for over three times a day.

This makes truckers vulnerable to Covid-19, according to the escort officials. The route passes through the places like Bongaigaon, which is declared red zone for Covid-19.

Assam recorded over 1,300 confirmed Covid-19 cases and West Bengal has marked over 5,100 cases to date.

One of the escort officials, Vikas Sharma, said drivers were asked to use sanitizer after collecting notes from gates. “However, we are not sure about the drivers who travel without an escort. They are informed to practice the regulations strictly.”

Only two tracks, one in the front and other at the end, out of 20 truckers would be accompanied by the escort officials. Others in the group are expected to keep an eye on their friends and ensure safety measures are followed.

He added that some left the receipts and balance amounts at the gate fearing the risk of Covid-19. “But there are drivers who will have to collect receipts and change. The fees are different for different trucks.”

Officials said if the truck breaks down in the red zone areas they are not allowed to repair at the spot.

RSTA officials have so far surrendered to Gelephu police three truckers transporting essential items using roads from the Indian States of Assam and West Bengal to Nganglam.

They had violated safety protocols while travelling through the Indian States. They will not be allowed to use the route until the situation improves, according to officials from RSTA.

The drivers are informed about regulation and protocols to follow one day ahead of the departure to avoid the risk of getting exposed to Covid-19.

Senior motor vehicle inspector, Rinzin Jamtsho, said that the trucks were not allowed to carry extra baggage without prior permission from the officials. “They are advised to travel directly without stopping for lunch along the way.”

To strengthen the monitoring along the road, over 16 Desuup volunteers have joined as the escort officials.

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