It requires a great deal of patience if you want to fix your car at the automobile repair workshops in Samtse town. Sometimes, it takes an entire day just to fix a minor problem. And at times, you have no other option but to return home without any service at all. This is because the only two automobile workshops at the Samtse town are running short of skilled workers.
Since the closing of borders due to the pandemic, local workshops in the country have witnessed an increasing number of customers. However, the service delivery in Samtse town has not been up to the mark.
“I have been here since very early in the morning and still I have not been able to fix my car. I even had to skip my lunch just to get my car fixed,” said Lakman Tamang, a customer.
Another Samtse resident, Tandin Gyeltshen, said “we do not have enough workshops and now there is a shortage of skilled labourers. Moreover, we do not get the spare parts easily. It is difficult for us too as a customer.”
Tshewang Tenzin said he waited for more than 2 hours just to fix a minor problem. “By this time, I should be going back home. Since there are not many skilled mechanics here, we have to wait for our turn. A lot of our time gets wasted,” he said.
28-year-old Rajesh recently opened his workshop at Dhamdum in Samtse. Without enough skilled workers, today Rajesh himself can be seen working as a mechanic. The workshop currently has five mechanics and a few un-skilled helpers.
“We get a lot of complaints saying that service is not good. Some of them have to leave the workshops after spending almost an entire day without any progress. We feel guilty but there is no other option” he said. “We are facing a shortage of skilled workers,” he said.
Moreover, Rajesh said that most local customers prefer Indian mechanics.
As such, he has been trying to bring in a few skilled foreign workers into the country but has been unable to do so as they are yet to get fully vaccinated. Besides that, for a small-scale industry like his, Rajesh is allowed to import only one skilled labourer.
“If we are allowed to bring in three to four Indian labourers at a time then it will be very helpful for us. For now, we are only allowed to bring in one Indian labour. Moreover, if there is an option to bring them here and give the vaccination. Things will be better” he added.
Norbu Gyeltshen, the owner of the only other workshop in town, also shared similar thoughts.
“I deal with heavy vehicles and it is very difficult for me to get skilled labourers who know about heavy vehicles. Many Bhutanese don’t show their interest when it comes to working with heavy vehicles,” he said. “If the government allows us to get in three to four Indian workers, we are planning to recruit a few of them.”
With the two workshop owners already working to bring in skilled labourers from India, the matter might be solved soon. A few more automobile workshops are also under construction as part of the Dhamdum Industrial Park in the district which will help ease the problem.
Passang Dorji, Samtse
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen