…𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒏𝒆𝒘𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒅𝒓𝒖𝒈 𝒕𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒖𝒍𝒕𝒔 𝒂𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒖𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒄 𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒔𝒑𝒐𝒓𝒕 𝒅𝒓𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒚 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒂𝒏𝒙𝒊𝒆𝒕𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒓𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒚 𝒂𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒖𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒖𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒄.
The Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority (BCTA) has recently carried out drug testing on 138 public transport drivers across five regions in Bhutan, with the aim of ensuring safety and security on the country’s roads. The results of the drug tests, which cover the first four months of 2023, have revealed that 30 drivers have tested positive for drugs.
Out of 512 drivers tested for drugs across three regions, Gelephu region had the highest number of positive cases, with 17 drivers testing positive for drugs from 160 drivers. The Phuntsholing region followed closely behind, with 11 positive cases out of 87 drivers tested. In contrast, the Thimphu region had only 2 positive cases out of the 265 drivers tested for drugs.
These figures are concerning, as they reveal that a significant number of drivers may be engaging in drug use while operating public transport vehicles. The high number of positive cases in Gelephu and Phuntsholing regions highlights the urgent need for targeted interventions and stricter enforcement of drug laws in these areas.
A concerned taxi commuter who frequently travels between Thimphu and Phuntsholing expressed his apprehension, stating, “It’s truly frightening to learn that some public transport drivers have tested positive for drug abuse. As passengers, we entrust our lives in their hands, and it’s unacceptable that they indulge in such an irresponsible and unprofessional manner.”
On the other hand, 369 drivers from Samdrup Jongkhar and 157 drivers from Mongar were all tested negative, indicating that the transport drivers in these areas are adhering to the regulations and maintaining a high level of professionalism. This is an encouraging sign that reflects positively on the efforts of the BCTA in promoting responsible practice among public transport drivers.
To guarantee the safety of passengers, the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority (BCTA) has implemented a rigorous system of random and ad hoc drug testing for public transport drivers. In the event that a driver tests positive for drugs, the BCTA takes swift action by suspending their driving license for six months. Additionally, the driver is referred to the Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency (BNCA) for further investigation and possible rehabilitation.
One of the officials from BTCA stated that they will continue to enforce and undertake drug testing to ensure the safety of passengers.
This system is a crucial component of the BCTA’s efforts to ensure that all public transport drivers in Bhutan operate with the highest level of professionalism and safety standards. By conducting random and ad hoc drug testing, the BCTA is able to identify and remove drivers who pose a potential threat to the well-being of passengers and other road users. The suspension of a driver’s license also serves as a deterrent to other drivers who may be considering drug use.
An official also said, “BCTA’s drug testing is conducted through ad hoc and random checks, and if a driver is found positive again after six months, it adds to their delimit point”, added an official.
By maintaining this system, the BCTA can continue to promote responsible behavior among public transport drivers and foster a culture of professionalism and safety on Bhutan’s roads.
“While no study has been conducted regarding the effectiveness of drug testing policies for thee drivers by BCTA so far; however strict enforcement is expected to bring positive changes”, added an official.
Jambay, a taxi driver from Thimphu, expressed his support for drug tests for public transport drivers as a reasonable safety measure to safeguard the well-being of passengers and other road users.
“As public drivers, we should exercise extra caution and collaborate with the government for their tireless efforts,” he stated. “Driving under the influence of drugs can impede judgment and reaction time, which could result in accidents and fatalities”, added Jambay.
Pema, a 30 year-old taxi driver said, I think it is always a great idea and decision to do drug testing for all the drivers as we never know what will happen next if we are under the influence of substances. I respect my passengers as I make my living from them”.
Leki Wangmo, who lives far from the city, shared her concerns about commuting late at night. She stated, “I live 12 km away from town, and I have to work late, I feel insecure taking a cab alone. I feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and fearful for accidents and other safety issues as I have witnessed few young cab drivers under the influence of substances and alcohol”.
Shacha, 30 year-old said, “I believe all drivers should work together with the government to prevent accidents caused by driving under the influence of substances. This will not only ensure the safety of passengers like us who rely on daily commutes for work, but also contribute to an overall safer driving experience for everyone on the road”.
Moreover, Shacha’s call for a collaborative approach highlights the need for mutual support and cooperation towards achieving shared goals. While the government plays a crucial role in regulating and enforcing road safety laws, it is equally important for citizens to take ownership of their actions and make conscious efforts to drive safely and responsibly.
This sentiment echoes the concerns of many passengers who rely on public transport services in Bhutan. The news of positive drug test results among drivers has understandably created a sense of anxiety and uncertainty among the commuting public. It highlights the need for swift and decisive action by the BCTA and other relevant authorities to ensure that all public transport drivers operate in a responsible and safe manner.
Bhutan TODAY tried getting comments from Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (DFDA) but we were informed that they are currently occupied with meetings throughout this month.