Boulder exports from Gelephu to Bangladesh not benefitting Bhutanese truckers

Boulder exports from Gelephu to Bangladesh have been thriving in the past couple of years. Despite hundreds of tonnes of boulders leaving Gelephu daily for Bangladesh, the business has not benefited Bhutanese truck drivers. Exporters claim that huge transportation expenses incurred along the Indian highways on the way to Bangladesh discourage Bhutanese truck drivers.

Exporters say they have no option but to rely on Indian truckers to transport boulders to Bangladesh.

“In 2019 and 2020, our Bhutanese transporters exported many boulders and aggregates through Tura in Meghalaya, from the north. Currently, the route has been diverted from Tirkikila. The drivers said that the road condition is poor, riddled with potholes, which might be the reason for the current challenges,” said Chencho Gyeltshen, an exporter in Gelephu.

He also added that most Bhutanese trucks are 10-wheelers, and travelling long distances with smaller loads is not beneficial.

While Bhutanese truckers are not able to make the most of a thriving business, Indian transporters shared their delight of being able to carry boulders to Bangladesh from Gelephu.

“It benefits us to export boulders from Bhutan. When we did not have this business, we used to travel to Delhi and Haryana. There were profits but it was difficult. We had to spend day and night driving. It is better here.  It’s near Assam, our hometown,” said  Bakralay, a trucker from Assam.

“We get a transportation charge of 1,600 rupees for a trip. It is easy to exit Bhutan. In India, we have to pay fees at various points,” said Hyrudhen, another trucker from Assam.

Every day, 40 to 70 Indian multi-axle trucks, each carrying about 60 tonnes of boulders and aggregates, leave Gelephu for Bangladesh via the Indian highway.

Karma Wangdi, Sarpang

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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