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Bhutanese drivers now allowed to pay penalty closer home

Earlier, defaulters had been paying penalty to the Alipurduar Police

Bhutanese drivers are pleased that they can now pay penalty for defaulting on Indian roads in Jaigaon in West Bengal instead of traveling all the way to Alipurduar.

The West Bengal Police announced the facility during a sensitization workshop held this week in Phuentsholing.

Till now, the drivers had to either travel to Alipurduar Police station or settle accounts with the Jaigaon Police station by paying double the amount. Drivers said that it was better to pay twice the actual amount in Jaigaon rather than traveling to Alipurduar, almost 60kms from Jaigaon.

By traveling to Alipurduar, they would incur more losses in traveling expenses. Also, they often lost their way unable to find the exact location to pay the fines. “We had to waste time and fuel, tripling the actual penalty, so we used to pay double in Jaigaon,” said Sonam Tshering, a taxi driver.

Another driver said that though they sometimes did not get a money receipt for the penalties they paid; it was fine as long as their documents were returned. “We are happy as far as our documents are returned. The news of a new counter in Jaigaon itself to collect penalties is very welcome.” said Kinzang Nidup, another taxi driver.

More than 500 vehicles ply everyday on the Indian highways of West Bengal and Assam. Drivers said they were often trapped in situations over little mistakes and ended up paying penalties and sometimes facing the wrath of the mobs.

The West Bengal Police also announced that now they have an online payment system for defaulters.

“Paying minimum charges at internet cafes, the defaulters can pay fine easily without problems,” said a representative from West Bengal Police.

The Department of Law and Order with Indian counterparts in West Bengal and the Road Safety and Transport Authority, Dungkhag administration and local police conducted the workshop in Phuentsholing to sensitize public bus drivers, truckers, taxi drivers and other private car drivers plying on the highways of West Bengal and Assam to Gelephu, Samdrup Jongkhar, Jumotshangkha, Samtse and other subsidiary roads leading to Lhamoizingkha, Panbang and Nganglam.

“It has been observed that some fundamental traffic rules and signals commonly understood and used by drivers in India are not understood by our drivers,” said Director of Law and Order Tashi Penjor, “Also the road condition and human settlements along the roadsides in India and Bhutan are vastly different. Many of our drivers are not used to this and tend to drive at high speed causing accidents often leading to loss of lives.”

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing

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