Vendors along the highway hang on

Phurpa Lhamo

The impact of Covid-19 pandemic has hit the vegetable vendors along the Thimphu-Wangdue highway hard.

At Mendaygang, of around 13 vegetable stalls, five have been closed.

Choki Pemo, a vendor, said that the business was slowing down. Many, including her daughter, decided to close their shop immediately after the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The risk of contacting the disease is ever-present,” she said. “My daughter chose to take vegetables to Wangdue on Sunday and at Punakha on Saturday.”

Before Covid-19 scare, the vendors would make about Nu 7,000 daily. Now, it has been decreased to around Nu 2,500 a day.

For Namgay Dem, who sells dried fruits, zow, and chips along the highway at Tongchakha, income has decreased to mere Nu 1000 a day. “I came back to the stall after to find that travellers had used shed as toilet.”

Due to lack of customers, vegetables fiddlehead ferns and spinach have to be thrown away every day. “These vegetables go bad quickly. If Covid-19 lingers for long, it would be difficult for most of us,” said Choki Pemo.

Grocery stores along the highway are also affected by the pandemic.

Pema Lhazom, who owns a grocery store and also sells vegetables, said that she lost around two third of her income.

“There aren’t many travellers. Restocking grocery is difficult,” she said.

They are all affected but none of the vendors, who depend solely on vegetable sale, have applied for kidu.

“His Majesty The King and the Lyonchhen worry so much about the country and the people. I did not apply for kidu fund. There are people such as drayang workers who are really in need of help,” said Namgay Dem, 50.

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