The fruit sellers of Ramitey are hoping that their concerns are heard and their dreams materialized
Fruit sellers in Ramitey along the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway will soon enjoy the comforts of proper sheds to sell their products on that stretch. Rain or shine, they have been selling their products and earning their daily bread sheltered under temporary sheds all the while till date.
Initially, the Department of Surface Transport (DST) under Darla Sub-Division notified the vendors to dismantle all temporary sheds within road right of way in August this year. The notification stated that it is illegal to construct temporary structure within road right of way along the Phuentsholing-Thimphu road without prior approval from the concerned authority. According to Road Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2016, if one constructs temporary structures such as market sheds or erect fences, poles etc., in the road control area in contravention of rule 63 of the Rules and Regulations, the person shall be fined daily minimum national wage rate upto maximum of 120 days.
However, the concerned authority is likely to come up with the construction of permanent sheds for the vendors. Vendors could neither approach the immediate authority to contact as the area does not fall under Phuentsholing Thromde nor does the gewog have authority to allow the vendors to run their businesses under erected sheds.
More than 16 fruit sellers along the highway have approached the DST to allow them to continue their business.
The representative of the fruit vendors, Passang Lhamo said that the fruit vendors along the highway have been raising their family from the business. “Not allowing us to continue with our business would be equivalent to day light robbery,” she said. “Hence, the vendors requested the concerned authority to grant permit and allow us to run the business.”
Meanwhile, a Chhukha Dzongkhag official said that they just did an assessment whether sheds are required or not. The vendors were also informed that they will be provided with sheds and are hoping they can sell fruits comfortably.
A vendor, Beru Rai, said that the vendors till now have been selling fruits under the erected shed. “I have to run this small business to feed my family and send children to school,” she said. Beru Rai said that she was worried when DST notified that they will be not allowed to sell fruits under the umbrella. Nonetheless, she said, “We are grateful to DST for considering our plea and will be convenient to run the business.”
Another vendor, Harka Maya Rai, said that earlier they have been suffering in rain, sun and wind. “It was difficult especially during the rainy season and windy hours.” She is hopeful that the construction of sheds would ease their struggles.
Similarly, Iata Maya Rai is also excited about the news. The vendors are informed that the shed will be constructed by the students of College of Science and Technology with fund support from Department of Tourism. Iata Maya Rai opined that the heat wilted the fruits and rain spoiled the fruits incurring losses quite often.
The vendors, who requested for stalls in group, were also informed that the sheds will be lighted and washrooms constructed. However, vendors from other Dzongkhags have to seek approval from the concerned authority to run the business.
Jamyang Dema from Merak in Trashigang has been selling fruits along the stretch for nine years. The little income she earns from the roadside business is spent for children’s education. She is grateful to the concerned authority for granting permission to continue the business.
The structures will be designed by the Department of Tourism and gewog officials, according to the vendors. Officials from the Dzongkhag, Gewogs, DSP and vendors came up with this middle way solution after several meetings.
Sangay Rabten from Phuentsholing