The export came to a halt for around two months
The export of boulders from Phuentsholing came to a stop on April 17 following the third lockdown in the town. However, its export is expected to resume today after the completion of the mass screening in the border town.
Meanwhile, boulders were exported smoothly during the second lockdown without any hindrance under strict protocols and containment measures. However, during the third lockdown, the export came to a halt for around two months.
The General Secretary of Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA), Tshering Yeshey said, “We got the green signal to facilitate the export of boulders, but the problem here is that one needs to be self-contained.”
While the government officials have houses ready at Toorsa side, he said for private individuals they are informed to manage self-containment before initiating the export.
“The export is planned to resume by 19 of this month. However, we never know as the situation may change overnight due to the positive cases,” he added.
With the onset of the rainy season, some exporters and transporters are worried about the stocks and the roadway as the boulder loading takes place at the other side of the Toorsa River.
Tshering Yeshey added that since the monsoon has already started, the road towards Toorsa is not suitable and the team has already started with road maintenance. The boulders are at the other sides of the river and transshipment will not be possible in heavy rain.
“There are chances of the stocked boulders being washed away by the river,” he said.
An exporter, Pema Khenrab said while boulders export is yet to resume, all the Bhutanese trucks are stuck in Jaigaon, India.
He said, “I have around seven trucks stuck in Jaigaon for almost two months. We are waiting for information from the BEA and the taskforce to help us to get the trucks back to the country.”
He said he is not able to understand why the export stopped, while exports were going on smoothly without any difficulty during the second lockdown under strict protocols and containment measures.
“Given the containment at Toorsa and the exporters testing negative, it was confusing why the export had to stop during the third lockdown,” he asked.
Similarly, another exporter, Tashi Rabten, who also exports boulders, said his trucks are also stuck in Jaigaon and that he is not able to bring them back.
“I have about 36 trucks stuck in Jaigaon,” he said, adding that he has to pay a parking fee of Nu 150 for a truck and payment for the drivers.
According to the report maintained by the BEA, from this year on April the amount generated from boulders in Phuentsholing and Pasakha is USD 1,831,059.06 and INR 3,680,179.35, which were exported to India and Bangladesh.
Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing