…𝑯𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓, 𝒊𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒊𝒎𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒓𝒔, 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒃𝒖𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒐𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔, 𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒍𝒚 𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒈𝒏𝒊𝒛𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂𝒄𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘𝒍𝒆𝒅𝒈𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒈𝒖𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚 𝒇𝒓𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒌 𝒔𝒆𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒉 𝒃𝒚 𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒎𝒑𝒉𝒖 𝑻𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒅𝒆
Krishna Kumar Sanyasi
The recent notification from Thimphu Thromde has caused dissatisfaction among vegetable vendors and wholesalers. The regulations, intended to alleviate parking congestion and enhance sales at the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM), have left some vendors and wholesalers contending with challenges, leading to a sense of discontent.
Susmita Subba, a vegetable vendor, has been selling produce at Kaja Throm since its inception. Despite the recent actions taken by Thimphu Thromde, she deems them reasonable. This isn’t the first notification they have received, but Subba points out that some vendors from Kaja Throm tend to take their vegetables near the parking area to sell. She emphasizes a prevailing misconception about these vendors- contrary to popular belief, the majority are not rural farmers but, in fact, vendors from Kaja Throm itself.
When these vendors sell on the streets and parking areas, there’s a misperception that they are offering lower prices because of accessibility, leading people to believe they are farmers from rural areas. In reality, they are not. Subba highlights the financial challenge they face, paying Nu. 3000 as rent for a single stall. The lack of customer footfall in Kaja Throm adds to the difficulty, often resulting in her inability to sell a single vegetable. Despite these challenges, she expresses hope that the new initiative will bring about positive results.
Kencho Om, a vegetable wholesaler at Kaja Throm with two stalls, meets the hurdle of a monthly rent of Nu. 6,000. Observing friends and other vendors successfully selling at the parking lot and on the street, she decided to join in. However, Thromde seized her products, a consequence she accepted without resentment, acknowledging that such sales were not permitted.
Despite this setback, Kencho Om attempted to sell her products with the hope of making some income. Unfortunately, she recounts having a challenging day. Kencho Om, expressing concern, noted that Thromde officials do not conduct daily checks on roadside vegetable sellers. While some vendors freely sell near CFM, official inspections occur only in response to complaints from Desuups. Om finds this lack of consistent monitoring unfair, emphasizing the need for a stricter approach. She suggests that Thromde establish strong rules and regulations applicable to everyone, rather than depending on officials’ discretion or mood.
Euden 58, a farmer from Punakha, selling vegetables at CFM, emphasized the potential benefits if Thromde could permit street vending for a few hours. She highlighted that this arrangement would be advantageous for farmers like herself, who do not reside in Thimphu. Once they finish selling their produce, they return to their respective places. Euden also underscored the financial challenge faced by farmers when selling to wholesalers, as they often have to lower their prices for bulk sales, resulting in diminished profits.
Choki 25, a vegetable vendor from Chhukha, shared her experience in compliance with directives by relocating from Kaja Throm parking area to Babesa truck parking. However, upon arrival, she faced a shortage of designated space, leaving her without an allocated area to sell her products. After several unproductive days in Babesa, where she couldn’t sell anything for three days, she eventually resorted to renting a stall back in Kaja Throm.
Pema Wangdi, a vegetable wholesaler from Paro, expressed his frustration about the lack of buyers for their vegetables at the Babesa truck parking area. According to Wangdi, vendors are required to travel all the way from the vegetable market to Babesa, incurring high taxi fares, just to purchase their vegetables. He further mentioned that this situation causes them to waste valuable time waiting throughout the day without making any profit.
Anjuli Tamang, a vendor at CFM, commends Thimphu Thromde for taking the right step in removing street vendors. She points out that when street vendors operate, it diverts attention away from established shops like hers. Today, she observes a significant increase in customer traffic, likening the bustling atmosphere to a Saturday.
Tamang notes the advantage street vendors have in avoiding rent and taxes, but as registered vendors, they bear these financial obligations. She suggests that those genuinely interested in selling their products can make use of the many vacant stalls available in Kaja Throm and CFM.
According to an official from Thimphu Thromde, the regulations addressing parking congestion and poor sales among CFM shoppers are not new. Thromde has taken proactive measures to implement these regulations, relocating vendors to Babesa near the truck parking area. Violations of these regulations will result in fines in accordance with the Waste Prevention and Management Regulation of 2012, specifically pertaining to the sale of goods or services on the streets and pedestrian walkways without approval.
In addition to the regulatory actions, Thimphu Thromde notified the public through national media to raise awareness about the new vendor location.
Thimphu Thromde emphasizes the availability of ample space in Kaja Throm and the Thromde vegetable area. The officials express support for vendors willing to utilize these spaces. They note that sales on footpaths are seen as a secondary business, related to those already operating inside CFM, based on their records and knowledge.