Major projects underway to transform Bhutan’s trading hub

Trade is further expected to boost in the border town of Phuentsholing once all the infrastructures are in place and utilized properly.

Projects to double-lane northern bypass highway, mini dry port, and land customs stations are already in full swing presently. All these facilities once operated would decongest traffic in the core town area. A Nu 65mn three storied multiple car parking is also expected provide parking spaces to more than 250 light vehicles at once. Taxi services are also expected to be made available there.

Phuentsholing Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said all the ongoing activities are primarily planned to make the town a major hub of trading.

“We are doing it and once complete, the trade will boost in the town if all the infrastructures are utilized properly,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phuentsholing town has the history of being considered a major trading hub of the country. Since its development the town has catered to the needs of the rest of the country. The town located right next to the Indian border of Jaigaon is where some major trading and commercial activities take place. Further, the multiple infrastructures that are planned on its way would only add on to the development of the town.

Further, the Phuentsholing Thromde also has plans to turn all the parking spaces within the core town into pedestrian pass.

The Thrompon said people will buy more while they walk on the streets. “People won’t have the luxury to buy by simply driving around in the car. So if they walk, they walk freely and they will buy more,” he said.

And to divert vehicles to the Pasakha Industrial Estate, a bypass road from India is already on the verge of completion. The Land Customs Station (LCS) at Pasakha is also under construction. Till now, all heavy vehicles en route to Pasakha use the main town’s road, which is considered as one main reason for traffic congestion in the town. Once the LCS and the double lane road are complete and the vehicles start using the new road, the main town is expected to be decongested and more visitors are expected to visit the town.

“It will provide free and open space for the people,” Uttar Kumar Rai said, adding that the town will attract more customers from the country and across the border.

The mini dry port is also expected to provide all services from a single window, thus reducing travel time for people wanting to process their documents. It will also house the offices of department of trade and customs, immigration, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) and police, among others. The dry port, worth Nu 134.85mn, is one of the three South Asia Sub-region Economic Cooperation (SASEC) projects with the Phuentsholing Thromde.

Further, the recent opening of the Damchhu-Chhukha by-pass road and the Amochhu bridge are also expected to boost trade with more visitors in the town. People of Tading and nearby gewogs have been eased in trading from Phuentsholing than from Samtse as it takes more than three hours to reach Samtse, while it takes not more than two hours to reach Phuentsholing.

Also with the adjacent Jaigaon town in India, people would prefer to visit Phuentsholing than Samtse, according to Thrompon.

“They get varieties of goods and services. So they will visit here now with road connectivity,” the Thrompon said.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing