With residents complaining that the contact lines for essential items remained mostly busy, Thimphu Thromde has a new toll free number 1009, however people were confused as 8 stock centers in Thimphu have stopped taking orders for grocery and vegetables leading to the helpine again becoming busy.
Making matters worse, the helpline no longer took vegetable orders for which a Centenary Farmers Market number was given. On the other hand, the CFM number holder said CFM only delivers vegetables to stock centers and not at homes.
According to the reports coming in from some of the stock centers, certain items were also running out of stock.
Even the grocery items were taking two to three days to deliver.
The Agriculture Minister said that the government is prepared with all the emergency measures regarding the essential food items and it is stocked in all the 20 dzongkhags and FCBL is doing all the distribution in the gewogs according to demand.
“Preparedness is important and we are all prepared for emergency supplies. For all the dzongkhags we have designated a focal person who will manage and distribute the supplies. People should not panic and buy everything and stockpile,” the Agriculture Minister said.
In the meantime, the Agriculture Minister apologized to Thimphu residents for technical glitches in vegetable delivery services.
He said that from friday afternoon, Foresters and Desuup will come around in DCM trucks in different zones carrying vegetables for delivery.
“There will be mixed vegetable packed in Nu. 300 per package and Nu. 500 per package for easy delivery. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer choices of vegetables. For equity in services, there will be limitation of purchase in the first round. Depending on the stock availability, we will try to meet the demand. No need to make calls for residential demand,” Lyonpo said.
The vegetables which started around 4 pm made a few rounds but did not reach many parts of Thimphu.
The Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government is working on improving the service delivery of food items to the people in the country.
“Our worry is not that we do not have enough stocks but ensuring it gets to the people. Government and thromdes are trying and working hard to provide services to the people. We are receiving a thousand calls and we could deliver only around 300 a day,” the Prime Minister said, adding that there are 27,000 households just in Thimphu with around 150,000 people but though they want to deliver goods in a day they cannot do so and they are trying.
Lyonchhen said, “We have food stocks for at least six months in all 20 Dzongkhags like oil, salt, sugar and 16 wholesale dealers are also stocked with consumers goods like diapers, soaps etc. We can also import more if needed.”
Lyonchhen said that they are aware of vegetables rotting in farms and other issues but if they open up things too much then the virus can spread.
“Agriculture Minister, FCBL and Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation are working on it. We are giving permission to the farmers to travel and we will collect the vegetables from them. In some places the farmers are not able to sell eggs and in some places there is a shortage of eggs, so we have instructed BLDC to supply it,” Lyonchhen said.
Lyonchhen added, “We will not only give rice, oil, salt but also most of the grocery items available in a grocery shop if you call the numbers given. In rural areas too food will be given. Prices of commodities cannot be increased above reason as per law. For home delivery by government the prices are not hiked.”
FCBL Chief Executive Officer Naiten Wangchuk said that for a larger dzongkhags and the larger towns, home delivery will be impractical but for small towns it will be easier for home delivery.
“We have enough reserve swhich can last six to seven months. We have enough rice, oil and pluses and we are distributing based on the size of population. Different focal persons in different dzongkhag are having their own way of providing the services and it will be difficult to reach all the deliveries at once since there are more number of people calling and ordering items,” he said.
Namgay Tshering, Thuemi of food stock center in Thimphu said that in the two days they have received around 700 calls and they are trying to receive all the calls and reach the deliveries to the respective individuals.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry facilitated food supply today from the centenary farmers’ market and packed vegetables costing Nu 360 was distributed from vehicles around the Thromde. Vegetables included potatoes, tomatoes, onions, green chilli, garlic and ginger.
For equity in distribution, there will be limitation of purchase in the first round of delivery. This door to door delivery service will continue till there is a phase II service in place.
On Saturday the MoEA opponed 16 more grocery shops.