On food safety, organic farming, erratic ATM service and traffic problems

Is fish we import safe?

Fish imported from Andra Pradesh in Assam said to contain Formalin (Formaldehyde) is used to keep fish fresh for long period.

Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing agent. Food Safety Authority is Assam had found that people have been using fish that contain Formaldeye in the periphery of Guwahati and Rangia in Assam. Rangia is only 50 km from Samdrup Jongkhar.

So for the safety of our people, we may need to suspend the import of fish into the country.

Givinda Humagai
(Published on July 16, 2018)

Teachers in the heart of education system

Teachers, who are working tirelessly round the clock, are the cornerstones of our education system.

Many of our teachers are working in the most remote parts of the country. There are about 167,000 students in the country. We are proud of our teachers who are working hard to educate our children.

The kind of citizens and professionals our children will become will depend largely on the quality of the teachers. According to a government figure, the teacher-student ratio is 1:18 today, and that this ratio is considered good by any standard in the world.

We need to provide continuous training programmes to our teachers to keep abreast of the teaching methodology and curriculum development.

Those trainings should be provided not only to teachers in government schools, but also to those in private schools. Professional development should be given priority.

(Published July 17, 2018)

BoB must improve its ATM services

This is about increasing incidences of BoB (Bank of Bhutan) debiting cash from our accounts while failing to produce cash from ATM booths.

I withdraw cash with my BoB account. Most times withdrawing from different bank’s ATM booth have worked for me. With BoB ATM booths, however, most times cash is debited from the account while not dispensing it.

One must then go through harrowing deal of a problem – calling BoB service providers. And most times the calls are held in queue.

In some cases the amount is reimbursed to the account within two or three days. However, most reimbursement processes take more than a week. This is frustrating.

BoB should focus on righting this issue. Clients deserve better.

(Published July 18, 2018)

BoB clarifies

In response to the letter from Choki published in Kuensel’s “My Say” on July 18, headlined “BoB must improve its ATM services,” the Bank of Bhutan would like to explain as follows.

Firstly we sincerely apologize to Choki and all our customers for the inconvenience caused recently due to failure in withdrawing cash from BoB ATMs or other bank’s ATM using BoB cards. This happened only on one weekend (6 to 8thJuly) due to planned upgrade done on our switch on 4thJuly 2018, which was informed, to the public via social media. The switch upgrade was done to improve our IT systems and service to our clients but unfortunately, we encountered some problems despite extensive testing done with the help of our switch vendor prior to the go-live. Fortunately, we have been able to resolve the issue and failures have reduced. We would like to clarify here that if withdrawal from BoB ATMs fail due to problem with our switch, it is unlikely that withdrawal from other banks’ ATM using BoB cards will be possible since the switch handles all transactions relating to the ATMs and POS terminals.

BoB operates a full-fledged Contact Centre (1095) manned by 6 customer care executives from 8AM to 11PM every day (including weekends and holidays). However,when call volumes increase due to an unforeseen problem, calls are held in queue. In such cases, we would like to advise customers to mail to customer.care@bob.bt along with details such as date of transaction, account number, contact number, ATM location and amount. Clients can also contact us through our chat facility from www.bob.bt, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. One can also always visit the nearest BoB branch offices.

We also like to inform that in cases of ATM withdrawal failures by BoB clients using BoB card (BoB ATM card at BoB ATM), cash reversals is automatic and almost instantaneous and shouldn’t take longer than 24 hours after the complaint is received. However, withdrawal failures for those clients who used other banks’ ATM using a BoB card, the process is much longer and takes about a week as charge- back has to be raised and confirmation awaited from the other (acquiring) bank whose ATM was used, before we can reverse the transaction.

It is our continuous endeavor to provide efficient and reliable services and we have made substantial investments to ensure that we live up to the expectations of our clients in this regard. Unfortunately, we too are dependent on our partners and service providers for support and at times our services suffer due to failures on the part of our partners, which is beyond our control. We understand the inconvenience and frustrations faced by our clients when our services fail, as we are equally frustrated with our partners and service providers for their lack of support. We would be most happy if our systems and services run smoothly and assure our clients that was are doing everything possible to ensure that our services run smoothly. However, at times our services fail despite our best efforts and we humbly request the patience and understanding of our valued clients during such instances and assure them that we will be doing everything in our powers to rectify the issue when things fail.

BoB Management
(Published July 19, 2018)

What is the ultimate goal of going organic for the country?

In the July 5 Kuensel issue, there was an article “Nurturing Bhutan’s Organic Dream” where it is stated that the Agriculture Ministry is setting an ambitious vision of making Bhutan an organic nation. This is a worthy goal for a small pristine nation like ours, and given the country’s size, it may be possible to achieve this dream sooner than others.

However, by achieving the organic dream, what is the ultimate goal for the country? Is it for our people to consume healthy food? Is it to reduce inorganic food imports? While these goals are noble and worthy of achievement, will our farmers be enthusiastic enough to produce organic produce based on the above goals alone? Rather, it would be the income factor that will encourage our farmers to take organic farming on a commercial scale. This means there should be enough and reliable market for such organic products both domestically and maybe in the region too. Only when such markets exist, will the organic dream not only be achieved but go beyond.

At the moment, there are some small-scale farmers in Punakha valley who are producing organic vegetables but are struggling to find potential markets at home. The general population still prefer cheap and imported products, and do not realize the value of organic food products.

Therefore, in the process of achieving an organic dream, the government may explore strategies to create and promote markets locally and beyond for products that are already being produced organically by our farmers. This will directly benefit the farmers, which in turn will boost organic growth.

Kuenden Penjor
(Published on July 20, 2018)

Flyover – A solution for the traffic mess

It’s high time to introduce flyover for the congested thromdes which will play an important role in easing the traffic.The construction of flyover provide two more lanes and therefore increase the capacity of the road ways.

The travel time between the two locations is also significantly reduced.In this modern age flyovers have become vital parts of big or small cities alike, giving elbow room for the development.

Thromdes in the country must wake up to the reality. Measures to tackle traffic congestion by introducing the one way rule and diversion of heavy vehicles on main road during peak hours have met with only limited success.

Thimphu Thromde must plan such measures before it’s too late by constructing double storied bridge with double lane over the Thimphu Chu at Lungtenzampa so as to tackle traffic congestion
by introducing diversion of heavy vehicles on arterial roads during the peak hours.

The flyovers are needed at junctions and road crossing where accidents are frequent. Ministry of Works and Human Settlement should explore such measures for the nation.

(Published July 21, 2018)

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