Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupcholing

The truckers deployed to dump muck at Habrang coal mining in Samdrupcholing, Samdrupjongkhar want  rates increased or load reduced.

The State Mining Corporation Limited (SMCL) pays the truckers Nu 440.38 per hour.

A truck driver, Tshering Tobgay, said they get Nu 440.38 a hour and have to transport 27 truckloads for a kilometre distance and 10 truckloads until Tshangchuthama bridge a day.

“We get paid for 10 hours if we fulfil the target, but it is challenging for us to meet the target most of the time,” Tshering Tobgay said, adding that the officials divide it into hours and pay them if they do not meet the target.

He said the current rate is less because the fuel price has increased, adding that it is challenging for them as they have to fuel their trucks for more than Nu 2,000 every day.

Another truck driver, Lungjay Norbu, said the existing rate was approved when the fuel price was about Nu 43 per litre in 2016. “Although the fuel price has increased over the years, the rate is still not revised. It is high time  the SMCL revise and increase the rate as the fuel price has reached more than Nu 70 per litre. We spend more than Nu 2,000 for the fuel every day.”

He said they expect about Nu 550 per hour as they face challenges fueling and maintaining their trucks with the existing rate.

“It would also help us if the SMCL could reduce the number of truckloads to about 20 a day from 27,” Lungjay Norbu said.

Truckers said that they recently submitted a letter to the SMCL.

They said the SMCL increases the rate when the fuel price increases and decreases when the fuel price drops for the truckers at Khothakpa in Pemagatshel. “But it’s different here as there is no increment in the rate for so long.”

Drivers said the dust has also been one of the challenges for them as the officials do not water on time.

SMCL’s chief executive officer (CEO), Kezang Jamtsho, said the current rate was the contractors’ quoted rate which the board endorsed.

He said that since the truckers were given the work directly, he would meet the truckers, adding that they have to pay three percent commission to the contractor and two percent TDS tax.

“But we do not cut that percent, which means the rate has increased by five percent. To increase or decrease the rate, since the overall amount for trucks is high, the SMCL would have to call for a quotation, which has to be endorsed by the Board,” the CEO said.

Kezang Jamtsho said that only the legal transport firms would be allowed to bid once the quotation is called and not individual truckers. “We are worried they would lose their work if we call for a quotation.”

“It would be challenging for the truckers as they would have to work under the successful transport company, giving them the commission,” Kezang Jamtsho said.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk