Thromde office had to pick some vendors individually from the roadside

Younten Tshedup

The multi-level car parking II (MLCP) near the Thimphu Thromde office was in chaos yesterday afternoon.

Vegetable and fruit vendors from around the capital city gathered at the facility. While some had already started their business, many moved around confused.

A woman rushed in dragging a sack of dry chillies asking a group of officials to help her find a place.

Tashi Om has been operating as a vendor for more than a decade. She is among more than 500 vendors operating at the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM). Following the recent decision to allow only one-third of the vendors to operate at the CFM, the 50-year-old decided to move to the MLCP.

“The new arrangement allows us to sell our products for only five days a month at the CFM. I would earn nothing in five days, which is why I and some of my friends decided to shift here (MLCP).”

Tashi Om manages to get a spot for herself and her friend. “Although I’m thankful for the space here, I’m more worried if they decide to chase us again once we settle down.”

She said that it was really difficult getting customers once they left their initial places.

“I’ve lost many of my customers since the CFM closed. Some of them still call me asking for my location,” she said. “We want an assurance from the authorities that they would not chase us once we have gained new customers here.”

Another vendor said that there were hardly any customers visiting the new place. “It is a cosy place but without customers, it doesn’t serve any purpose,” she said, adding that they had to also carry the vegetables and fruits from the wholesalers at the CFM to the MLCP area.

“There is additional cost incurred. If only the wholesalers could be allowed to come and deliver at the new place.”

Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that because the vendors were reluctant to move to the new location and had started selling by the roadside near CFM, the thromde sent its vehicles to collect the vendors and their belongings.

“We are bringing and settling them here,” he said.

He said the thromde would not allow vendors to sell by the roadside. “Henceforth, if people are found doing so, we will confiscate their products.”

The thrompon said, “Once everything is set up, we will advertise the new location with all its facilities through mainstream media outlets.”

He said that the new market at the MLCP would also provide all the services that were available at the CFM.

After the 104 stalls at the MLCP II were occupied, Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that rest of the vendors would be moved to the MLCP I located at Phendey Lam near the Zangdopelri complex. There are about 130 stalls available at the MLCP I. Currently, almost 70 percent of the stalls at MLCP II are filled.

The two MLCPs would cater to the upper Norzin Lam zone, while the CFM operating at one-third capacity would cater to the lower Norzin Lam zone.

This arrangement of the two car parking facilities would remain for at least two years until the Covid-19 pandemic, the thrompon said. “By then Covid would be over and maybe CFM will come back at full strength.”

Meanwhile, two truckloads of onion reached Thimphu yesterday. The onions were distributed among the vendors, where each vendor received a sack (35-40kg) each.

By evening, most of the vegetable stalls at the MLCP II had exhausted their onion stock. A kilogram of onion sold at Nu 180.