In Phuentsholing, the border gates were opened at about 9 this morning. Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering inaugurated the opening ceremony. Thousands of people crossed the newly built Pedestrian Terminal on Day 1 of the border gate reopening.
The Indian neighbours across the border waited in anticipation of the border gate reopening.
As soon as the prime minister opened the border gates in Phuentsholing, the pedestrian terminal filled up within minutes as residents, day workers and casual visitors from both countries came one after another to cross the border.
And looking at the scenes as people from the two sides met each other, it seemed the two countries really missed each other. After all, two and a half years is a long time.
“We are very happy and excited as well. We can now finally visit Jaigaon like in the past. It has been a very long time that the two countries remained separated,” said Tulsi Maya Thapa as she hurried off for some shopping in Jaigaon.
“Be it vegetable or clothes or anything, everything is cheap and affordable from Jaigaon. We don’t earn much and things have become very expensive here in Phuentsholing,” said another Phuentsholing resident, Wangdi. “I will make a quick round and come back.”
Unlike before, anyone entering and exiting Bhutan will now have to cross the newly built, first-of-its-kind, pedestrian terminal and complete the immigration formalities. All Bhutanese citizens entering the country have to produce their Citizenship Identity Card at the main entry point to the police officials. For Indian visitors, one will have to produce a voter card along with a fully vaccinated certificate to enter Phuentsholing. And for other international tourists, a passport will be more than enough. The process is the same while exiting the terminal.
While there wasn’t much of a problem with the reopening of border gates, the pre-registration online system developed by the immigration office constantly got stuck and ran slow. The online system was developed to provide faster and seamless immigration clearance.
All entry and exit movements will be facilitated from 6 AM and will remain open until 11 PM.
Passang Dorji/Phurba, Phuentshogling
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen