Govt. to build pedestrian terminals at other check points

The pedestrian terminal at Phuentsholing cost around Nu 183mn and the other three integrated checkpoints will cost around Nu 600mn

To address numerous issues in the border areas and to document and regulate the entry and exit of all foreigners and Bhutanese, the government is planning to build terminals like the one in Phuentsholing at other check points in the country.

According to Prime Minister (PM), Dr. Lotay Tshering, the government has identified three formal check points in the border region to build terminals. These are Samtse, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar.

“The government is aiming to construct a similar pedestrian terminal, implementing a systematic procedure for everyone’s entry and exit at the pedestrian terminal in Phuntsholing,” he said.

PM shared that the previous system did not adequately monitor the points of entry and exit. “But after the pandemic we have begun to make everything systematic and control the checkpoints to avoid running into the same problem again,” the PM said.

The pedestrian terminal in Phuentsholing is equipped with contemporary amenities matching international standards, including air conditioning, television, CCTV, a health counter, and a public address system.

Both the general population and tourists will have their counters and all essential amenities will also be available at the tourist counter, including the currency exchange counter.

 “Pedestrian terminal in Phuentsholing is as good, if not better than Paro international airport,” PM said, adding that building a standard pedestrian terminal in all the integrated check posts will cater to the needs of tourists entering through the borders.

 PM explained that all the tourists will be allowed to enter through all the checkpoints once mandatory formalities are complete. Previously, tourists could enter through the Phuentsholing border because only it has immigration facilities on the Indian side.

A few tourists, PM said, wished to travel from Guwahati to Bhutan via the Samdrup Jongkhar border, but they were unable to do so since there were no immigration facilities.

The pedestrian terminal at Phuentsholing was built with a budget of around Nu 183mn and the PM said that it was worthwhile given how beautiful the structure has come out. This indicates that if the government decides to construct the identical design at the other three integrated checkpoints at Samtse, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar, it will cost close to Nu 600mn.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister emphasized the timing for each Bhutanese to cross the border.

He shared that the earliest time to enter Phuentsholing for day workers is 6 am- 9 am (exit before 11 pm). For Bhutanese, they can enter by 9 am- 11 pm, and exit to India before 7 pm. But different checkpoints have different timing depending on the ground situation.

Further, the construction of 1,000 bedded quarantine facilities in Samtse, Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar was completed at a cost of Nu 489mn. The construction of the second phase of 2,000 beds costing Nu 2.7bn is underway in these districts.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu