Lockdown weighs heavy on businesses

Huge Loss: Some of the expired grocery items

Groceries items have expired and rats have played havoc with electrical appliances during the prolonged lockdown in Pling

Sangay Rabten

The lockdown has weighed heavy on the residents, especially business community, of Phuentsholing. Though no official research is being conducted by any related agencies, business individuals reveal that they have endured heavy losses and are now crawling back to business.

In addition, business people of Phuentsholing, Bhutan Times talked to, said that grocery items expired and in some of the shops, electrical appliances were damaged by rats and other household pests during the four-month lockdown in Phuentsholing.

The retailers and groceries, pan shops, bar and restaurant owners say they had many stock items and now they are worthless as most of them have expired.

Most stores consider them unfit for sale and items are disposed of, according to the business people of Phuentsholing. “Many items were damaged by the rats,” the business owners reported.

The cheese block and milk packet, milk powder, cooking oil, biscuits, Wai Wai, Koka and Maggie noodles, atta and maida flour, vegetable juices and water bottles, cosmetic products, Horlics Sweets Sugar, etc are items that have expired and spoiled by the rats.

Chozom, who runs a canteen in the National Housing Development Colony, said she lost stock of around Nu 30,000 worth. She said that most of the items had expired and some of them were spoiled by the rats.

Chozom had stocks of milk, flour, sugar, noodles, and juices. “I heard officials would come to inspect the expired items. But they did not come and I had disposed of everything, “she said.

The owner of Jigme restaurant in Phuentsholing’s lower market, Sangay Dorji, said he had lost worth Nu 30,000. “Many items have expired while some are spoiled by rats,” he said.

He said that losing worth of many thousands to a low-income group and having to pay Nu 25,000 for rent are posing difficulties for surviving and reviving the business. Sangay Dorji expects, “If our losses are compensated by the government.”

Indra Baraily, running a grocery shop, said that her goods worth Nu 30,000 are spoiled. Besides paying Nu 12,000 for house rent after a 50 percent waive off, she said it made her tough to recover. “If there is any help from the government, we would be grateful.”

The owner of the Pasang Tshongkhang said that he lost goods worth Nu 160,000. “I haven’t paid rent for four months and now 90 percent of the items in my shops are unusable. I cannot sell and it is hard to roll out capital for the business and survive, “he said.

Pasang Dolma Tamang, who runs a pan shop in the town, said she disposed of items worth around Nu 16,000

Another pan shop owner, Gangi Maya Rai, has also lost goods worth Nu 15,000, mostly expired and some damaged by rats.

Phub Zam said that biscuits, chips, noodles, cheese amounting to Nu 16,000 and juices amounting to Nu 8,000 have expired. “Neither can we consume ourselves nor sell them to others. I had to dispose of them all.”

The owner of ST saloon, Sonam Tshering, said that all the wires of machines and hair clippers were damaged by the rats during the lockdown. “I had to buy new wires for Nu 11,000.”

He said that besides having to pay high rent with no income and buying new accessories, it is a huge burden with no solution. Therefore, he said, “It is high time that the concerned authorities should look into the matter.”

Pabitra Rai, running a restaurant and bar, said that all her packed food items had expired. She found bulbs were fused and electronic appliances were damaged when she returned to her shop after the town was relaxed. She lost worth of Nu 25,000 in goods, including electronics, besides pending rent payment. The owner of Yen Youg