Picture of Zero Point store in Zilukha

People express relief as the 2nd phase of essential item service commences

Although the second phase of the essential items service was to start with the use of zone cards, until Thursday, the government thought it would be safe to continue with full-fledged lockdown as there were more COVID-19 case detections in the country identified during the week.

The movement of people within their zones with the issuance of cards per household were much anticipated until Wednesday, however until then people still had to use the online routes which could not cater to everyone on time.

 The officiating Director General (DG) Rinzin Lhamo, Department of Trade (DoT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) said that there are enough stocks for at least 20 essential items comprising of coffee, toiletries, biscuits, sanitary pads and noodles among other basic essential items at the wholesale outlets.

She said that on some instances people might have requested for brand particular items and such items like tuna and others during a lockdown scenario cannot be catered to the public as expected.

However, she said that certain items, even those which were included within the 20 or more items lists, might have been exhausted at times as the wholesale outlets needed to restock from their warehouses, to which she said that in some cases the warehouses were farther than what the demand rate was like during the lockdown.

She said that she and the team had personally visited wholesale outlets to know of the situation for goods and was surprised to see the number of calls that were incoming.

She said “there were people who were continuously on the phone lines for almost 7 hours a day”.

 Since the Foreign Minister acknowledged peoples’ cooperation on Wednesday on live television, the card access standards were placed back in from Thursday morning with people queuing up for the much-awaited personal shopping experience.

 Tshering, a residence of Upper Samtenling visiting the grocery in his locality said that he had waited a long time to drink some coffee. He said that he had managed to save some essential items before the lockdown, however, he never thought that it would be that troublesome to obtain few simple items during the lockdown phase. He said that he and his children are happy now that at least something is available for everyone in his home.

 Another resident from the area said that she had a hard time with her kids since they were always demanding for Lotte Choco pie and that she had to keep them distracted with Youtube videos for hours just to keep their craving satiated with other things.

 Oneak Mongar, a resident at Taba said that he had been longing for alcohol and bulb at his home as he had all the other necessary items delivered to him through online services. He said that initially he was frustrated with the orders and had to order repeatedly since the first card system announcement made him cancel his orders but he had to again reorder which took another two days-time. He feels much relieved with the current efforts made by the government and the cooperation of people that enabled the initiative for the decision-making authorities.

Like them, other people expressed relief and gratitude at the time of the first lockdown in the country.

 During the week a few people had written on social media about lack of stock for essentials such as toothpastes, floor cleaners and even flour at their nearby designated stores and said that they only received a few items off their list which included mostly basic items.

 The officiating DG of DoT believes that this could have been due to people relying and giving feedbacks according to one or two stores that they had called.

One of the store’s contact focal person said that these items are restocked within a day or two and have been delivered on most occasions.

Among the above those who acquired the numbers for essential services, people stated that they still had trouble ordering meat items and alcohol products to the numbers that they were provided from the 1009 hotline.

A few of them said that the numbers for the liquor vendor was non-responsive and not operational throughout the week and that they tried to get in touch with other wholesale outlets.

Similarly, the tobacco hotline was reportedly jammed since the inception of the services and people said that the delivery period was very long.

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