Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
About 350 trucks carrying boulders and minerals from Bhutan to Bangladesh have been stranded at Changrabandha, an Indian town that borders with Bangladeshi town of Burimari for the last two weeks.
Changrabandha is about 100kms away from Phuentsholing.
The problem, according to sources, started after a new parking space was identified at Changrabandha. Truckers could not use the seven-acre space, which was inaugurated on October 16, as problems surfaced.
The new space is just about one kms away from Changrabandha-Burimari border and truckers had added advantage.
Sources alleged that people involved in the old parking space at Rajahaat, which is about 18kms away from the border started the problem and stopped the new parking space from being used.
The Bhutan Chamber for Commerce and Industry (BCCI) office in Phuentsholing has written a letter to Phuentsholing drungkhag for assistance.
A drungkhag official said that they are already in touch with officials of the Cooch Bihar district. “People associated with the earlier parking space at Rajahaat are creating the problem, as they lost business to the new parking space.”
The drungkhag official said that the parking lot was identified after consultation with officials from Cooch Bihar, such as the district magistrate, superintendent of police, and sub-divisional officer and sub-divisional police officer of Methliganj sub-division.
Prior to the identification of the new space, Bhutanese trucks and trucks from across the border ferrying Bhutanese goods to Bangladesh often faced traffic problems and were penalised by local authorities.
The drungkhag official said that a team comprising officials from the drungkhag, police and Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA) had visited the counterpart officials to start a new designated parking space near the border area.
“We thought the parking issue was solved,” he said, adding another problem had started now. “The ultimate solution would be an intervention from the Cooch Bihar local government.”
The drungkhag official said that the counterpart officials are already aware of the situation and working on resolving the issue as soon as possible.
BEA general secretary, Tshering Yeshi, said the intention was to provide a designated parking space to facilitate the truckers. “But the group with vested interest form Changrabandha are creating problems now.”
He said they have already reported the matter to the local authority and to Phuentsholing drungkhag.
Tshering Yeshi said that these are never-ending problem created often at both Fulbari and Changrabandha. “Unless there is an intervention from the government, the problem would continue.”
Trucks ferrying boulders from Fulbari, another Indian town that borders Bangladeshi town of Banglabandha, had experienced similar problems for several occasions this year. Locals stopped Bhutanese trucks citing overloading as the main reason.
On the night of September 23, about 37 Bhutanese dumper trucks ferrying boulders were attacked by a mob at Fulbari when a Bhutanese truck hit a man on a cycle along the roadside. The trucks were damaged and some Bhutanese drivers were also physically assaulted.
Later in the same month, a motorcycle hit a Bhutanese driver in Fulbari. He was admitted to a nearby hospital.
Although Fulbari locals stopped Bhutanese trucks citing overloading as an issue, sources have pointed out that the problem started since more boulders from Bhutan were entering into Bangladesh, which adversely affected the boulder business in their locality.