Villagers appeal for better space at temporary market

Phub Dem | Paro

Lack of space or proper place at the temporary vegetable market to sell their farm produce has irked the villagers in Paro, some calling for proper management, as they have to compete for space with the vegetable vendors.

With the vegetable market closed for renovation, the Tshongdu archery ground is functioning as the temporary market place.

Locals were provided a separate space at the archery ground, but villagers claim that they are in the blind spot and want a better place. Kencho Dem from Khangkhu came to sell two sacks of red rice a week ago. As the space identified for locals was fully occupied, she moved to the parking. Officials from the municipality chased her from the parking.

“I didn’t sell the rice. I hired a taxi and went home,” she said. She came again to sell her produce on Friday. During the weekend, she said, there is no space to sell her produce. She came to sell the rice at the market to pay for farm labourers, machinery charges and buy groceries.

Villagers said that before the Covid-19 pandemic, vendors from Phuentsholing and Thimphu would buy their produce at their doorsteps. “As it is harvest season, we need cash and we have to sell our produce,” she said.

Cheday from Dopshari said although farmers were provided a place, not many customers come to their side of the market. “If we are allowed to sell along the road, near the entry gate and by the footpath, we can sell whatever little we bring.”

After the nationwide lockdown, some vendors stopped selling vegetables at the market, but their spaces are still occupied with tarpaulin sheets.

The local leaders of 10 gewog met with the municipality to look for a solution. Paro Dzongkhag Tshogdue Thrizin, Tshering Dorji said that there was a need for a proper management plan, as the temporary shed has to serve the people for about two years.

He said that it was unhygienic to sell everywhere. The local leaders proposed a space in the middle of the ground for the locals.

Municipal engineer, Ugyen Eden said that the municipal representative and officials visited the market place every weekend to study the scenario. She said that the municipal office would discuss the proposal with the dzongkhag administration this week.

Meanwhile, lack of public toilets, water and waste has become a problem in the temporary market.

A vendor, Yeshey Lhamo, said that garbage trucks wouldn’t come on time and there was no one to clean the place although the coordinator collects Nu 20 every day. “We clean our area and dump the waste in the municipal garbage truck.”

With toilets in old vegetable markets locked and no new toilets arranged in the temporary market, vendors relieve themselves in the open air.

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