The Check-Post Management System (CPMS) is found to be handy, effective and useful, especially in contact tracing during the outbreak of COVID-19 in the community due to access to instantaneous information on the movement of people.
Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) along with the Department of Information Technology & Telecom (DITT) initiated the CPMS after first lockdown under Royal Command from His Majesty The King asking them to develop a system where they can contact trace people should there be any local transmission.
The system was instituted in 11 September 2020. The system was improved with many feedbacks received from commuters.
Commuters appreciate CPMS as they pre-register themselves and they gladly comply to wait at check posts as the police manually register them. However, there are a few cases whereby commuters have shown frustration and acted aggressively due to traffic congestion.
After the second lockdown, from 1st February to 4th March 2021, more than 200,000 vehicles were registered in CPMS around the country. Thimphu registered the highest number of both inbound and outbound travels, followed by Paro and Wangduephodrang.
From 1st February to 4th March 2021 more than 600,000 people registered with CPMS to travel. Thimphu has the highest travellers at more than 100,000 people travelling followed by Paro with 90,000 registered people.
A focal person of CPMS, Lt Colonel Ngawang Dorji from RBP, said that the system has helped them in contact tracing and made their job much easier. The system also helps in tracing down a vehicle that gets into accident and then it is easier to find a missing person, if any.
There were a certain challenges while implementing due to high number of users, the network clogged up, which eventually led to slow registration or no registration at all.
The commuters that fail to pre-register have to then be registered manually at respective check points. The probable reasons for failing to pre-register are that some people do not have smartphones, internet disruption, no electricity at some check points and some are illiterate.
He said, “While registering manually at check point, people tend to get frustrated whereby they act aggressive. We do not react to their aggressiveness and it is understandable. We try to explain commuters about the issue, to which some understand while some still blame us for the poor system. We do nothing deliberately rather we want a smooth flow of traffic to avoid unnecessary risk.”
However, he said that things have improved as they see people being vigilant, cooperative and patient. In check points with no electricity, DITT connects the system through optic fibre wire from the Community Centre that is quite expensive.
“There is still a room to improve things and we are collaborating with relevant stakeholders to enhance the system and to provide better services,” he said, adding that DITT has increased the size of a processor in order to avoid network congestion.
Meanwhile, he said that commuters who register to travel to Phuentsholing and Paro from Thimphu is quite huge, which is why they have had to increase the number of personnel deployment along the two highways to provide smooth services.
“Deploying additional manpower is not an issue, but logistics has been an issue, always, particularly when it comes to women constables, where they have to be safe guarded while on duty. So, people should understand those hardships faced by our men on ground and act responsible,” he added.
RBP has also started stopping the commuters who take a transit route via India and those travellers are the ones who deliver essential goods to respective dzongkhags. These travellers can travel only with an approval from incident commander of respective taskforce, and they are being escorted by officials to ensure safe travel, he said.
During lockdown, CPMS were suspended to avoid illegal travelling. However, those people who got stranded were being facilitated through 1010 and only after an approval from incident commander were they registered with CPMS. They do not approve their travel unless their reasons are genuine, he said.
He added, “We had cases, whereby commuters have tried to travel illegally by faking the place of origin, from red zone to green zone. We could get hold of them, even before happening, and thereby the system was further enhanced.”
RBP urges the people to pre-register as far as possible so to have a smooth flow of traffic at check points and failing to do so impacts service delivery.
There are 39 check points for now, and soon it will be reduced to avoid the feel of harassment by police. They will place check points at strategic locations.
By Damchoe Pem
The writer is a senior reporter with the paper