Long queues at the Pedestrian Terminal in Phuentshogling continue to frustrate the general public. With an increasing number of visitors coming in and going out every day, the pedestrian terminal is overburdened with an overwhelming number of people. Today, it takes a minimum of 30 minutes or more to cross the Phuentshogling and Jaigaon gateways.
The scorching sun and a substantial amount of time to wait in an endless queue, you will have to bear it all. Unlike in the past, one might now have to spend at least half a day visiting and returning from Jaigaon.
“It has been around one and a half hours that I have been waiting here in line. The new system is good but it is becoming very challenging for the general public like us. We have to wait in long queues every day to visit Jaigaon,” said Rinchen Wangdi, a resident in Phuentshogling.
“It takes a minimum of 30 minutes to one hour to cross the terminal and visit Jaigaon. For a young person like us, it is not much of a problem. But for women who are pregnant, elders, and people with disabilities, it will be very challenging to wait in long queues,” commented Jigme Drukpa.
“In the past, we did not have to show our ID cards. We were allowed to enter and exit the gate easily. Now things are different with new rules. I am going to visit Jaigaon for the first after nearly three years. I just hope it won’t take me a very long time,” remarked Dechen Tshomo.
“I tried to go to Jaigaon yesterday by showing the picture of the ID card that I took from my phone. But the officials here restricted my movement saying that they need the document in hard copy. I had to go back home to bring the original ID card, and again wait in the long line. This in total took me nearly three hours,” said Yeshi Wangchuk.
Despite registering with the pre-registration online system of the immigration office, one will have to produce an Identity card as a supporting document, that too in the original copy. The officials do not accept any other documents.
The Indian officials at the gate, however, accept a passport, voter card, and other documents as supporting documents to enter Jaigaon.
And for Bhutanese who have lost their identity card or have not renewed their ID cards, looks like they will have to wait a little longer to enter Jaigaon.
For now, both Bhutanese and Indian officials are not accepting expired documents. As per sources, a few Bhutanese were not allowed to enter Jaigaon yesterday as their ID cards had expired.
Talking to the people waiting outside the pedestrian terminal, they suggested the immigration office introduce more exit routes and deploy more immigration officials at the terminal.
And with winter approaching, the number of people visiting Phuentshogling is only expected to increase.
BBS contacted the immigration officials for comments.
Since day one of the border gate reopening on September 23, a minimum of 15,000 to 16,000 people have passed through the Pedestrian Terminal every day.
Passang Dorji, Phuentshogling