Truckers complain about incurring loss due to seven-day quarantine

Truckers say their income has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

Private truck drivers say that the seven-day mandatory quarantine for travelers from the high-risk areas to the low-risk areas has massively affected their income as they solely depend on by transporting goods from one place to another.

Due to the seven-day mandatory quarantine, they say around 15 to 16 truck drivers with their loaded trucks have to remain idle for a week or more in Phuentsholing.

Truckers say that in Phuentshogling, switching of drivers at Sorchen, has affected the drivers from traveling towards the northern parts of the country from the south. They added that even their source of income has been hugely affected by the pandemic and the seven-day quarantine protocols.

According to the truck drivers, since last year, most of the load-carrying vehicles have remained idle by the roadsides or their drivers have to undergo seven-day of quarantine to travel from the high-risk area to the low-risk area.

They added that even getting a driver, willing to switch vehicle from Sorchen, is costlier and takes a lot of time.

Some of the truck drivers that Business Bhutan interviewed said the Covid-19 pandemic has brought down their only source of income and the seven-day quarantine has caused a major problem in the transportation of goods. They say a loss of 40% was incurred during each transportation.

A 34 years old driver from Phuentsholing, Kezang Thinley said, “We pay Nu 4,000 to Nu 5,000 when switching drivers. It has affected us as we are paying them from what we get.”

He added, “We have to wait for weeks to get loads which in normal days was easy. The earning has been down as now we are only getting Nu 13,000 to Nu 15,000 depending on the loads and paying for hiring a driver to switch from Sorchen means we are only getting around Nu 9,000.”

Truck drivers in Phuentsholing are presently loading whatever is available as the pandemic has made it hard for them to get loads for weeks and months.

Dawa Norbu, another driver from Phuentsholing, said he has been working for 13 years and the pandemic has brought down his only source of income. Before the pandemic, he said he used to earn around Nu 70,000 to Nu 80,000 per month and now that his monthly income has come down to Nu 14,000 to Nu 15,000.

“From that income, we have to pay for switching the drivers and fuel. Even the price of the fuel has come to Nu 61 per liter which used to be Nu 51 per liter,” he added.

Sangay Namgay, another driver from Phuentsholing, said a hired driver is paid Nu 4,000 till Thimphu, for Trongsa and Bumthang they are paid around Nu 11,000, and Nu 250 to come back from Sorchen via taxi after letting the loaded truck travel beyond Sorchen.

Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing