Southern Dzongkhags well stocked and prepared for second national lockdown as they watch their borders

All the southern Dzongkhags, Samtse, Phuentsholing, Samdrupjongkhar and Sarpang have implemented zoning system with sufficient stock of vegetables and essential items. Everything has been put in place with what they have learnt from the first national lockdown.

All the four Dzongkhags despite being identified as red zones, shared that they don’t think there will be shortage of essential items as the import of essential items and vegetables from India are being facilitated as usual.

However, it is done following strict COVID protocol. Lockdown in all the four southern Dzongkhags were implemented since 1 PM on 23 December and zoning system was followed accordingly.

Chukha Dzongda Minjur Dorji said that they have started their zoning system on 24 December. He said, “We are doing assessment on stocking up of an essential items and we have sufficient items in stock for a week.”

Since there is no restriction with the movement of the vehicles transporting essential items, he said that there should not be any issue with the supply. Since farmers have just harvested their produce, there is no issue with vegetables supply, he added.

In terms of surveillance along the border, he said that assessments were done according to which the deployment has been done and they are still on with the system. However, “Now in winter the vulnerability of crossing border illegally is quite high as the water level of the stream would be very low,” he added. In line to this, they have step up duty deployment.

In addition, he said that with community transmission in Thimphu and Paro and since Chukha shares a border with them and Phuentsholing, the vulnerability is quite high. However, he said compared to Thimphu and Phuentsholing, the population is relatively less which is why they do not see much challenges. “Controlling would be easy,” he added. 

Samtse Dzongda Passang Dorji said that the zoning system in Samtse was implemented since 24 December. He said, “We have sufficient essential items in stock which can suffice for around a week and we will facilitate imported vegetables. However, we have local produce beans, cabbage and green leaves in stock.”

Regular replenishment of essential items will be done and therefore, they don’t think there will be any shortage, he added.

There are 77 Point of Entries (POE) in Samtse manned by desuups and armed forces, he said, adding that, being a porous border they are adequately manned around the clock, 700 plus people are being deployed.

“The government is doing their best in its capacity but people are a bit complacent. COVID situation will be on and off which is why one has to be prepared with whatever experience we have got from the first lockdown,” he added.

Despite repeated request by the government and repeated advocacy on the situation, people hoard, he said, though there is nothing to panic as there is adequate stock of essential items. So they urge people to cooperate, otherwise, there is not much of a challenge, he said.

Sarpang Dzongrab Sonam Wangdi said that they have implemented zoning system yesterday though they have implemented lockdown since 1 PM of 23 December and they have 10 zones including 5 buffer zones.

He said that there is nothing to panic as they have essentials items stocked up which would suffice three months and they do not think there will be any issue of vegetable supply as it’s harvesting season.

He said, “We got to experience a lot from our first lockdown whereby all the issues were being addressed. We now know how to provide services to the people and we are also well aware of how and when to deploy vehicles.”

Their surveillances along the border have always been heavy since day one and they would keep doing it. They are also being extra vigilant whereby they keep track of movement of people along the border, he said, adding that the number of duty deployment have been further enhanced.

Samdrupjongkhar Dzongda Tharchin Lhendup shared, “Since the import of essentials items are as usual, we do not see an issue in supplying of essentials items in any way.”

Since Samdrupjongkhar is identified as a red zone, their surveillance was always in place and they are continuing with their advocacy.

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