Boleros in the east are as ubiquitous as ants scurrying about in the jungle.
The reason is quite obvious: the India-manufactured vehicles are cost-competent and ideal for the rough and often stony and muddy rural roads of the remote eastern dzongkhags.
The past two years saw 147 boleros registered in Trashigang and this year 10 boleros have registered till date.
Boleros are considered the pickup trucks of the east because of their sheer power to move on the toughest roads. They are easy maintenance as well.
It is estimated that even the two remotest gewogs of Trashigang, Merak and Sakteng, have more than 40 vehicles today, mostly bolero pickups since it is best suited for the gewog roads, which could cause faint-hearted travelers a stroke if they are not prepared.
Most boleros from Merak fetch goods from Trashigang and also carry travelers.
A herder from Merak, Sangay Dorji, said unlike the past, the advent of boleros has made life easier for the herders easy as they can visit Trashigang in the morning and return to their village by nightfall.
Dawa Zangpo, who owns a bolero camper, said that most people in the east use boleros as it can carry heavy loads as well as passengers, ply farm roads and the East-West highway.
Additionally, he mentioned that boleros are very useful particularly during peak monsoon. “Most people in the east depend on farming for livelihood and owning boleros makes it easier to carry farm products to the market.”
Boleros are used mostly by shopkeepers and businessmen for transporting goods.
Sonam, who owns a shop in Trashigang said he bought a bolero to transport goods from Samdrup Jongkhar to Trashigang for his shop.
According to him, he sometimes ferries passengers and goods for other shops in Trashigang as well.
A farmer from Rongthong is of the view that owning a bolero has become something like a status symbol in the east. “It is useful for people of all walks of life.”
Boleros in the east generate huge income compared to other types of vehicles through the services they provide. And there are always takers.
The cost of procuring a bolero DC turbo is more than Nu 800,000 while the bolero camper and bolero pickup are estimated to cost around Nu 600,000 each.
There are 2,797 vehicles in Trashigang as per the Road Safety and Transport Authority records.
In 2017, 2,676 vehicle owners renewed their license while 121 new vehicles registered in Trashigang this year.
Jigme Wangchen from Trashigang