The Tshogpa of Centenary Farmers Market (CFM) Dendup, said there are no proper facilities in the zones and the two Multi Level Car Parkings where the vendors can operate their business. He said that the vendors are not willing to move to the MLCPs where they are kept on the top floor.
“The vendors who went to sell their produces for few days were complaining that the two multilevel car park buildings in Thimphu are fully enclosed with exterior walls of concrete, so the dust blows in polluting all the floors. The vendors also said that there is no business since the customers are not visiting the area for shopping,” he said.
He said that the CFM is well ventilated with no walls on any side and on the other hand, the MLCPs are heavily walled structures with much poorer ventilation compared to the CFM.
“We are not animals. If we operate our businesses there then we will get infected with other diseases as well,” he said.
He stressed that there are no facilities where the vendors can keep their produces.
He said that the vendors are willing to operate their businesses in the zones given the facilities are provided.
“We would have been happy if all the vendors were given permission to operate on rotation system basis to avoid crowding. Now the vendors are not willing to go to the MLCPs,” he said.
He added that it was like the Vendors being forcefully dispersed from the CFM.
“The MLCPs are for parking vehicles and not for the people to run a vegetable business. The government should think twice before giving such notice,” he said.
He added that for an area in CFM, the vendors pay rent around Nu 4,000 to Nu 8,000 based on the square feet. And nothing has been notified how much the vendors has to pay for the new location.
“Everyone is worried about how they will sustain their living and how they are going to pay the house rent since there is no business in the MLCP,” he added.
He further added that the vendors pay Nu 1.935 mn to the Thromde as a land tax annually for CFM.
Dema, 45 said that they tried to operate their business from MLCP, however there were no customers. She said that the area is dusty and fume of cars gets all over the places since the area is enclosed leading to air pollution.
“We will be getting other diseases before COVID-19 infect us. Even the animals are not kept in such places where there is dust. We are being treated like animals. We have decided that we will not move in to the MLCP till there are proper facilities put in the place,” she said.
Chimi Dorji said that he was supposed to operate his business from Babesa zone, however there was no temporary houses nor the tray to keep their produces.
“We did not go to our respective zones where we were supposed to sell our produce, but nothing has been installed. So at the moment we have stopped doing our businesses. We are being affected the most currently. The government is still standing on their decision and the vendors are confused how and where they are going to do business,” he said.
Another female vegetable vendor from Paro also said the same thing saying she was told she will get space at Kala Bazar but there is nothing there to operate from. She said she has closed her business and even given up her rented accommodation in Thimphu and is heading back to Paro.
She asked what is the personal interest of the authorities to push them out of a well ventilated and open CFM into poorly ventilated MLCPs and also in other areas where there is nothing to operate from. Many of her colleagues have opted to not do any business for now given the situation.
In an earlier interview the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the Thimphu Thromde is allowed to use the two MLCPs to keep vegetable vendors but at the same time the Thromde is supposed to construct one structure in each of the 45 Zones so that the vendors can be distributed there.
With no such structures coming up yet in the zones it appears that the aim of Thimphu Thromde for now is to cram in the vegetable vendors into the two MLCPs which defeats the very aim of closing down CFM in the first place.
The Thimphu Thromde under the current Thrompon has made numerous efforts since 2016 to increase the commercial viability of the two MLCPs run by the KCR company by either trying to cancel parking lots along the Norzin Lam or proposing to expand its commercial space from 20 percent to a higher percentage.
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