STCBL’s fifth fuel outlet to benefit Chumey residents and East-West highway travellers; Chamkhar’s business could see further decline

People in Chhumey Gewog in Bumthang are pleased with the construction of the State Trading Corporation of Bhutan or STCBL’s new fuel outlet in their Gewog. The construction which started in September this year is expected to be complete in the next four months. However, some people say this could have an adverse effect on Chamkhar’s business though it would benefit East-West travellers and the Chhumey community.

The construction at Rabten Zam along the East-West highway began three months ago but is halted momentarily due to the construction moratorium on concrete works during winter in Bumthang.

Currently, people have to take a detour to Chamkhar just to refuel their cars and make a round-trip to Chhumey.

“This is going to benefit the Chhumey residents immensely as we will no longer have to take the 15-kilometre trip to Chamkhar fuel station. On top of the fuel services, it would benefit us even more if LPG cylinders are also made available at the outlet,” said Lham Rigzin, a resident of Takar.

“We have been anticipating a fuel station at Chhumey for a very long time now. This project is not just going to benefit people in Chhumey but also those travelling towards the east. I can see the outlet stimulating even other businesses in Chhumey. However, we felt that the work is progressing quite slowly. It would make a huge difference for us if it is done at the earliest,” said Norbu Wangchuk, a resident of Domkhar.

The outlet will be providing an “all-in-one” service where tyres, wheel tubes, lubricants, agricultural tools, machinery and other STCBL products will also be available.

People will also be able to order vehicles and spare parts from the outlet. STCBL is also planning to make LPG cylinders available from the facility in the future.

“The Chumey outlet will be our fifth in the country. Since there is no outlet between Trongsa and Lingmithang, the location is quite strategic for us. The location was identified by STCBL and approved by the Department of Trade and Bumthang District administration. The fuel will be cheaper by 30 to 40 Chhetrum because the distance from Chamkhar to Chumey is around 20 kilometres. That 20-kilometre round-trip distance will benefit the customers in terms of price,” said Sugan Pradhan, the General manager of the STCBL’s Petroleum Division.

However, business in Chamkhar which is already affected by the Ura-Nangar bypass could see a further decline with the opening of the new outlet. Currently, passenger buses and cars travel to Chamkhar to at least refuel their cars.

However, with the emergence of several bus stops and hotels in Nangar and the new fuel outlet on the horizon, people say there is no point travelling to Chamkhar while taking the East-West highway.

STCBL says they acknowledge the fact that there will be some effect on Chamkhar’s business but there are positives people can take from the outlet as they are going to provide quality fuel and services.

Kipchu, Bumthang         

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