On road infrastructure, stray dogs, banking systems, pedestrian safety, women safety and human-wildlife conflict

Let’s build better roads

The arrival of monsoon has opened the floodgates for problems like blocked drains, floods and the frequent roadblocks all over the country.

With every monsoon, let alone the farm roads the national highways are also repeatedly getting blocked. For the people caught in the roadblocks situation, no matter how important their purpose of the journey, they have to wait for the roads department and other relevant agencies to clear the block.

Some travelers land up even quarreling with roads officials coaxing them to open the roads for traffic. In the face of severe slides, there is only so much the officials can do. For years, we have seen this process repeat each year even claiming lives of commuters.

I would like to urge the agencies and ministries concerned to build roads with quality such as looking into the topography of the place and building roads on stable soil areas, and maintaining a gradient of the road side slopes which would prevent easy landslides. Most of our road side slopes are steep, which is believed to make it prone to landslides.

There is no doubt we need better roads.

(Published August 6, 2018)

RMA and Financial Institutions must stabilize their systems

This is regarding “Withdrawal from ATM of any bank” and “Inter- bank fund transfer using Mobile Apps/internet” services initiated by almost all financial institutions. We appreciate that such high-tech services are now available in our country. However, we feel that financial institutions and RMA (Royal Monetary Authority) must first stabilize the underlying technology before rolling out such facilities to the customers. We have time and again faced issues of account getting debited without getting cash from the ATM or without the fund transfer happening. This issue has caused huge inconvenience to customers and especially to low-income people because the banks take days to resolve such inter- bank transaction errors.

It is our request to RMA and the banks to please ensure that your systems are working and only then to let the customers use the services. We don’t mind paying a nominal fee for such service as it really saves time but the service should at least be functional. With no fault of the customer, it is ironic and disheartening when we have to call up and requests the banks to give back our own money.

Pempa T
(Published on August 7, 2018)

What about the dogs?

These days our political parties and their members are moving from village to village promising to people almost everything on earth.

They are talking about everything except things that really matter to our daily lives. I have attended talks of parties and their candidates in many forums but none of them talked about the housing crunch in urban areas, rising inflation, traffic jams, and drinking water shortages. Who is talking about the mounting waste problems and the need to improve the infrastructure in the urban areas?

And what about the stray dog problem?

I don’t care if our national gross domestic product growth rate is estimated to be the fastest in the region next year if these things are not tackled. It does not make sense to me.

Likewise, please don’t talk to me about adding more helicopters and roads when our people especially the young are left without work to make a living. For a long time, we

have been hearing about taking corporate and other government establishments outside the capital city. This could help the economy in other parts of the country and also create some breathing space in Thimphu.

If anyone is listening, please stay in touch with the problems on the ground while pledging to build a grand Bhutan.

Tshering Palden
(Published on August 8, 2018)

Is Thimphu safe for females and who do we complain to about harassment?

I had parked my car along the road below JDWNRH since I had some work there. After I was done and returned to the car, I saw one of the fee collectors approaching my car. So with my right hand, I took out money and kept it ready for him to take. With my other hand I started to put my purse in my bag.

This parking fee collector who was wearing a cowboy hat and had a dark complexion touched my hand and slowly moved his hand to take the parking fee. I snatched my hand away, shouting at him. Instead of apologizing, this guy was smiling away and told me to leave. Now, some may feel what’s the big deal. To me this was a big deal. My personal space is important to me and being touched by men, stranger or otherwise, is never ok.

I went home shocked and disgusted by the touch. I scrubbed my hands many times but that feeling of disgust did not go away. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. How dare he touch me and make me feel disgusted when it should be this guy who needs to feel ashamed for his actions.

I decided to complain but this was another ordeal. I called up the focal person at JDWNRH who handles complaints. Although on leave, he was still willing to listen. However, I found out that
the area was under Thimphu Thromde.

I then got the contact of someone at the Thromde and she forwarded the complaint to the official who deals with private firms to whom parking fee collection is outsourced to. I have yet to hear on the action taken. But I do not have high hopes.

I then contacted the Thromde’s facebook page on who to contact for harassment along that road. They gave me the number of the private firm many days later, that also after I sent a second message. I did not call. I didn’t think that would make any difference. They would probably give me more numbers to call.

As I was finding out relevant people to contact, I heard that this guy has been harassing females for a while. Some had even complained but no action was taken. I will not be surprised if one day this guy goes beyond touching hands.

I have lived all my life in Thimphu and never thought it would be unsafe for females even during daytime. But Thimphu is becoming unsafe. Action needs to be taken now!

To the females, please be careful if you park along that area.

To the relevant authority, whoever you may be (I have not been able to figure out who the relevant authority is): Who do we contact for such harassment and can we expect action to be taken against such people?

A concerned citizen
(Published on August 9, 2018)

Human-wildlife conflict in Gelephu

These days scene of wild elephant ravaging farmland, crashing into house, and frightening motorists are increasingly becoming commonplace.

It has been a month since Gelephu has been battling with wild elephant. Herds of elephant entered Gelephu almost a month ago. Farmers and forest official have used various means to get rid of elephant. But they are still around terrorizing the people.

Farmer are spending sleepless night guarding their crops and it is increasingly becoming risky for commuters at night, even in the periphery of thromde. What is more worrying is that in next few months, paddy harvest will begin.

Shrinking forestland is the reason why elephants are entering the human settlements. We urge the range office in Gelephu to work out a solution urgently.

Govinda Humagai
(Published on August 10, 2018)

How to cross zebra-crossings?

It’s been quite sometime since zebra crossings were introduced on our highways particularly in the core city and peripheral urban areas. Zebra crossing gives the pedestrian the priority to rights of way and warns drivers that they must give way to pedestrians on the crossing.

In a city where the population is rapidly increasing, this is an alternative solution to provide thoroughfare to the pedestrians. However, the numbers of vehicles are increasing even more rapidly. So it’s the pedestrians and vehicles that create the traffic competing for the thoroughfare. That is where some level of education is required for the community to use the zebra crossing that will  agreeably serve both the driver and the pedestrian.

While the Zebra crossing definitely gives the pedestrian the priority to rights of way, it is also important to know that the pedestrian should wait until traffic has stopped from both directions or the road is clear before crossing. The common understanding on zebra crossing is that the traffic does not have to stop until someone has moved onto the crossing. As we do not have traffic light signals to guide the pedestrian, the pedestrians will have to watch carefully and do not cross if a vehicle has already entered the crossing.

The other important education to be imparted to the pedestrians is to instill the imperative need to cross the crossings with some sense of urgency and speed. Most people cross the crossings as if they are relishing the rights of way by walking majestically to the other side. Women cross the crossings as if they are walking on a ramp during a fashion show. Such responses from the  pedestrians often irk the drivers.

Having said that, how long are we going to live with this notion of zebra crossing solving all traffic gridlocks – both human and automobiles? Having seen no other alternatives initiated, it appears we are delighted and complacent that zebra crossings were the good idea that we have found to live with.

What is felt is, experiencing the worsening traffic congestion situations in our urban areas; the time has finally arrived to seriously think of an alternative to solve the traffic congestion problems of the future.

How about constructing an overpass or an underpass- however they are constructed! If constructed with a good plan, maintaining the traditional architectural and aesthetic values, they might provide the right alternative thoroughfares that are safer to use.

(Published on August 11, 2018)

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