With just three days left to go until the general elections Poll Day, many people are seen queuing up at bus ticketing counters in the capital to go to their villages to vote, but most are seen going back disappointed as the buses are all booked in advance. Still, there are also those who are booking available tickets on dates just before Poll Day.
Originally from Dagapela, 30-year¬old Thinley said she has bought a ticket for today, but her husband from Tsirang has no transport as the buses are full till July 14 while for Gelephu it is full till July 16.
“We will see if there are adjustments, if not we will have to take a taxi,” said the husband.
She said she got the bus ticket because she made an advance booking, whereas for her husband who thought he could get a ticket at the last minute, but only to be told the buses are fully booked.
The couple work in a school as cooks and this time, it was convenient for them to takeoff from their otherwise busy routines to travel and vote, as the Poll Day falls during the summer holiday,
Another disappointed voter is 47-year-old Hari Maya Rai from Gedu who has completely ran out of luck as she waited for hours at the ticket counter, in hopes that some people might show up to cancel their tickets.
“During the last two elections, I didn’t participate in the voting for some official reasons, but this time I really want to cast my vote,” she said.
Like many others, she is left with one option, and that is to take a taxi.
Aum Om, 50, from Haa who came for a treatment in Thimphu said looking at the empty ticket counters, it is evident that tickets are unavailable, but they shouldn’t keep the counters empty because people need to consult and find out if there are no buses, and so that alternatives can be arranged.
She plans to leave in a day or two by hitching a ride if possible. If that doesn’t work it’s the taxi for her too.
People say what is annoying is that even though tickets are completely sold out for the many destinations, not a single counter among the 13 ticketing counters have a notice pasted on their walls to alert passengers of the complete-unavailability of tickets. And so, a dozen or so walk in every other day to buy tickets that is unavailable.
An employee with one of the bus services said, her counter caters to 8 buses and just for this general elections, the owner even got extra buses for Phuentsholing and Gelephu because many people came looking for tickets for these places.
For places like Trashigang, an entire bus is booked by Sherubtse college students starting from 11 till 25 July.
There are 189 scheduled buses in the country and as of yesterday, additional 47 permits have been issued by the Road Safety and Transport Authority while compiling works are still on and will go on for four more days.
During the primary rounds, total permits issued in the country was 44, and this clearly shows that number of additional vehicle permits issued by RSTA is likely to be even more this time.
Chief transport officer Karma Pemba said perhaps number is more this time because we announced that whoever wants to take private vehicles must seek permit with RSTA.
“Whereas during primaries people were not aware of it,” he added.