Roadside food business booms in T/gang

Commuters along the Trashigang-Pam highway usually make a brief stop at the Kheri junction for a quick bite of street food.

The vendors are making use of a permanent shelter meant for travellers waiting for transportation. Roadside food vendors remain busy from the early morning hours until late in the morning selling momos, sel roti and jalebis.

A monk from Trashiyangtse said that whenever he visitsTrashigang he makes a  stop at the Kheri junction to eat momo. “I have been stopping here since a long time back and the vendors out here are close to me.”

Another commuter said that he stops at the Kheri junction especially to buy sel roti and jalebis.

The vendors, all women, come from low-income families. Budhi Maya, a vendor earns more than Nu.5,000 daily from sales. For a mother of three, selling food along the roadside has become vital for survival.

“Though we can earn a good amount for the survival of my family, due to more number of vendors selling at the junction, we have a routine to follow. We sell our food on alternative days,” she said. “My husband hardly cares about us and I am running the family with what I earn here.”

In the past, the first few vendors would sell food in Trashigang town. But the authorities concerned asked the vendors to close shop as as issues related to hygiene, sanitation and littering arose leading them to doing business along the highway.

Sonam, a commuter said that as the number of street vendors is increasing, there is a huge concern with sanitation and hygiene.

However, another vendor said that while some of them sell vegetable momos, others sell beef momos.

“So we have rules we adhere to besides maintaining sanitation and hygiene.”

Meanwhile, a Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) official said they are strictly monitoring the hygiene aspect of the street food including kitchen sanitation, possession of food handler’s license and observing health procedures.

“We have fast testing kits to test food items and we also keep watch on whether they are using plastic gloves and forceps among others as advised,” said an official from BAFRA.

Jigme Wangchen from Trashigang