Chimi Dema

Olarongchhu workshop area in Thimphu is running out of space.

The number of workshop and business operators in the area has spiralled unabated in recent years.

The present location was initially designed for 31 workshops in the 44 buildings when the workshops were relocated from Changzamtog. Today, 120 operate in those buildings.

Each building has about six operators. Most of them have automobile servicing, spare parts, denting and painting businesses, and a few have restaurants, pan shops, and tailoring.

An automobile spare parts shopkeeper, wishing anonymity, said that he bought the space at Nu 150,000 from one of the workshop operators who leased the building from the landlord. He pays Nu 10,000 to the workshop operator as monthly rent.

Several workshop operators have sublet their rental units to other operators. A few additional structures were also constructed adjacent to the buildings and are rented out.

The operators were charged between Nu 8,000 to Nu 10,000 as monthly rent depending on the size of the space they occupy.

The workshop firms claimed that they had to sublet any space they can to cover the exorbitant rents.

“With our automobile business alone, we cannot afford to pay such huge amount of rent every month,” one workshop owner said.

He said that in about a decade’s time, the landlords increased the rent between 266 and 300 percent. The hike, he said, was not in line with the Tenancy Act as it exceeded the 10 percent allowed by the Act every two years.

“We have no other options than to pay an increased rent because if we fail, we will be asked to vacate the premises within three months from the date of the notice,” another workshop owner claimed.

Meanwhile, the area is also constrained with traffic congestion, loud noise of machines and tools, and an outflow of effluents along the narrow roads.

At the roadside, some old and rusted machines and vehicles were assembled for repair.

With the increasing number of units operating in the area, the occupants are grappling with mounting waste and noise pollution.

In absence of proper drainage system and defunct waste treatment plant,  effluents – fats, oils, grease (FOG), detergents and paints from the workshop flow into the adjacent stream and then into the Wangchhu.