Fleeing laborers is a chronic problem among local contractors.
Foreign laborers absconding from the country has delayed projects and eventually resulted in penalties for missing the deadlines.
A businesswoman Jambay even went to Cooch Bihar in India frisking for her absconded thikadar whom she had paid Nu 0.6 mn initially to start with the works.
“But the work completed was worth Nu 0.4 mn only,” said Jambay. “Before the completion of the building, he fled to his hometown.”
Similarly, Yeshi Yangki’s residential building in Changzamtog, Thimphu has been left incomplete for a while because a little more than two weeks ago, her thikadar left for his hometown saying that his uncle had expired. He had already got Nu 0.5 mn for the work which he left unfinished.
On March 5, he was supposed to come with an additional six laborers and he took an extra Nu 35,000 as labor fee and permit charges but never came back. To exacerbate situations, he called up laborers left in the camp to elope.
“Although the passports were with the thikadar, the laborers managed to pass through the check post,” said Yeshi Yangki.
Jambay and Yeshi are just two instances of victims of absconding thikadars in the capital who sometimes even take along construction equipments with them.
Sources told The Bhutanese that laborers usually ply in cabs, stop above the Rinchending check post in Phuentsholing and sneak through the forest.
It is also believed that they bribe immigration officials and move in and out easily; even without a passport.
“Labor agents should take some practical responsibility to check on absconded labor, rather than just filling up forms, applying to labor ministry and other related procedures,” said a local contractor Namgay.
Another contacter stated that the check posts in the border towns are porous.
“Even though they exit from Phuentsholing check post they enter from Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar check posts,” said Jambay.
But very soon, the immigration office have plans of coming up with a biometric device that can screen out absconded laborers.
At the moment, the authorities are having a committee review and assessing how the technology can be applied in Bhutan. They are also training the immigration officials, and have allocated budget for it.