Some have been lying there from anywhere between a year to five years

Olakha: Unclaimed vehicles lying for years at Olakha automobiles workshop, congesting the already crammed area, have become a major issue, automobile workshop owners say.

Automobile association’s chairman, Kuenga Norbu, said there are about 50 unclaimed vehicles in the workshop area today.  The vehicles have been lying in the workshops for a year to about five years.  Some are parked in the garages, while some lie in front of the workshops.

Spread over about 13 acres of land, there are over 67 automobile workshops in Olakha that gets about seven to 12 vehicles every day, depending on the size of the workshops.

Kuenga Norbu said he has about eight vehicles in his automobile workshop alone.  Some were repaired, while some were beyond repair, owing to unavailability of spare parts. “We’ve five cars that have been repaired, but owners don’t show up, despite asking them to come and take their cars,” he said. “Most of the owners’ phones are also switched off.”

With such issues, some workshop owners started charging Nu 50 and Nu 150 a day for small and medium vehicles since 2012.  But that didn’t help either.  They said, for some vehicles that have been stranded for years, the cost becomes almost equivalent to the cost of the vehicle.

For instance, the chairman said he could fetch only about Nu 70,000 for the Isuzu car that has been lying in his workshop for about five years, while the charge for the space is about Nu 100,000. “But we can’t sell these vehicles in scrap also without the documents and the owner’s consent,” he said.

Tandin Workshop’s proprietor said that, just recently, he managed to get rid of some vehicles parked for several months in his workshop, following repeated calls to the owners. “Now there’s only one car that has been lying there for about a year and the owner hasn’t come still,” he said.

Yangki Automobiles’ proprietor Ugyen Dorji said, owing to lack of space, he doesn’t allow vehicles to be parked there if they cannot be repaired in a day.  If the vehicle requires replacement of spare parts, the owners are contacted only when the spare parts reach.

Despite the congestion, some said that there are automobile workshops that accept vehicles, not considering whether or not it can be repaired.  On the other hand, they said, some vehicle owners deliberately parked their old vehicles in the workshops, as they could not dump it anywhere else.

The association chairman Kuenga Norbu said, when owners did not show up after repeated calls, they were left with no choice but to keep the cars in their workshops.

“If owners come to claim it after several months, we aren’t able to hand the vehicles in the same condition as it was brought, as there are cases where most of the spare parts get stolen.” Kuenga Norbu said.

Most of the newly established workshops, however, don’t face the dilemma of unclaimed vehicles at present.

Meanwhile, with about 13 new vehicles hitting the road every day, automobile workshop owners expressed concerns over further congestion in the years to come.

By Dechen Tshomo