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Vegetable Wholesalersโ€™ Challenges Persist Despite Relocation, Prompting Calls for Improved Infrastructure and Closer Proximity to Retailers in Thimphu

โ€ฆ๐’…๐’–๐’”๐’•-๐’๐’‚๐’…๐’†๐’ ๐’†๐’๐’—๐’Š๐’“๐’๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’•, ๐’Š๐’๐’”๐’–๐’‡๐’‡๐’Š๐’„๐’Š๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’๐’Š๐’๐’†๐’• ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’•๐’Š๐’†๐’”, ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’”๐’†๐’๐’„๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’†๐’‚๐’“๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’‘๐’” ๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’‚๐’ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’†๐’˜ ๐’๐’๐’„๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’

Krishna Kumar Sanyasi

Thimphu Thromde took prompt action on December 26 to address the issue of wholesale vendors selling vegetables along the footpaths and parking spaces of Kaja Throm. While the decision to relocate wholesalers to Babesa Truck Parking is not new, repeated implementation has led to persistent challenges between Thromde and vegetable wholesalers. Nevertheless, the relocation to Babesa Truck Parking does not have any significant impact on logistics or finances.

The question arises: Despite the relocation, why do wholesalers return to Kaja Throm and Wangchu Lam? Upon inspection, the majority of wholesalers have highlighted the issues.

Yeshi Ngodrup, a 37-year-old vegetable wholesaler from Kabesa Thimphu, expresses concern about Thimphu Thromde’s choice of the current location for wholesalers. He said, “I am confused by Thromde’s choice of this particular location for wholesalers like us. People seldom venture to new locations to buy our vegetables. The site is excessively dusty, and despite spending the entire day here, I struggle to sell any vegetables. Furthermore, there are inadequate services, such as good toilets and seating arrangements. In contrast, when I used to sell near Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM), I could finish my sales within a few hours.” Ngodrup emphasizes that if Thromde genuinely believes in the suitability of this location for wholesalers, several improvements are necessary. Thromde should focus on proper infrastructure development, including building facilities such as toilets, cementing the entire area to mitigate dust in winter and mud in summer, and implementing organized parking arrangements for wholesalers. Ngodrup stresses the need for Thromde to approach these challenges in a professional way.

Sangay, a 34-year-old wholesaler from Wangduephodrang, expresses dissatisfaction with the current situation. He highlights the confusion surrounding the recent relocation of the wholesale market, noting that despite his attempts to sell at the new location, he has not been successful. Sangay also emphasizes the need for proper maintenance of the designated area, citing concerns about excessive dust and the presence of stones posing a high risk of tire punctures. These issues significantly impact his ability to conduct business effectively.

Sangay raises an additional concern, pointing out that while vegetables and fruits are sold at locations like Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) and Kaja Throm, retailers are compelled to travel downhill to purchase goods from the current location. This situation results in a significant portion of retailers opting to use taxis for transportation, incurring high taxi fares of approximately Nu 250. Sangay questions the logic of this arrangement, emphasizing that it does not make sense for retailers to bear such expenses. He advocates for a more practical and efficient approach, suggesting that wholesalers should be situated in close proximity to retailers, creating a comfortable and mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties.

Tshering Penjor, a 35-year-old resident from Punakha, reminisces about the earlier days when he used to sell vegetables in Thimphu. He would feel a surge of excitement upon reaching Dochula, as he could quickly sell his produce in bulk within a short period of time.

However, in recent times, with the shift to the truck parking area in Babesa, selling vegetables has become a challenging endeavor. The location is plagued by dust, lacks proper toilet facilities, and doesn’t have any nearby shops. The absence of suitable seating arrangements makes it particularly arduous, especially when vendors like Tshering have to bring their children along. The unfavorable conditions in Babesa have significantly impacted the ease and efficiency of their vegetable-selling activities.

A spokesperson from Thromde emphasizes that the municipal authority has exhausted various measures to communicate the message that vending on footpaths is strictly prohibited. These efforts include issuing warnings, imposing fines, and maintaining a regular presence daily. Unfortunately, these actions have proven ineffective as many vendors continue to disregard Thromde regulations.

The official further highlights that the situation at the Babesa site is not a recent development; both Thromde and vendors are well aware of it. The ultimate goal is for the Babesa site to serve as the designated location for both wholesale and retail activities. Thromde is optimistic that, with successful implementation, improvements can be made at the Babesa site. The municipal authority is actively exploring possibilities for enhancing and refining the conditions at the location, provided there is cooperation from all stakeholders.

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