Automobile workshop owners in Olakha, Thimphu who are making an issue in the media, even if the case is in the court, are claimed to be few namesake owners and don’t represent all workshop operators.

Following their complaints to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Thimphu thromde and an on-going case at the dzongkhag court, building owners in Olakha are claiming that 90 percent of the workshop operators have sublet their businesses.

A representative of the owners, after a consultation meeting among the owners, told Kuensel that although the case is subjudice before the court, the workshop operators are making issues as their profit margin from subletting is affected with the raise in rents.

“They are just sitting, collecting rent and paying it to us,” the representative claimed. “They have become like middlemen and only calculating their profit.”

Refuting the claims the operators made, the representative said that the operators are not paying rents for months. “We are almost begging for something that is ours legally,” he said. 

“If they owe us three months’ rent, they pay us only a month’s rent,” he said. “They become aggressive when we ask for monthly rents. This is harassment.”

On the land pooling issue, which operators accused the Thrompon and the thromde lawyer of conflict of interest and reducing the land pooling percentage, building owners said that even with the reduced pooling size, the landlords were at a loss.

Initially, each landowner contributed 56.8 percent for land pooling purpose. It was reduced to 35. “We are still running at a loss from the reduced pooling because others contribute only 29 percent,” said the representative.

Calculating their loss from land pooling, they said that a building built on a 13 decimal land, contributing 29 percent for land pooling could easily bring in more than Nu 100,000 a month. “From our 20.8 decimal land in the workshop area, we are earning only Nu 55,000. Other residential or commercial buildings are earning more than Nu 100,000 from 13 decimal land than from our 20.8,” said the representative.

On the notice to vacate, building owners said they issued the notice as they were misusing the property they have rented. “They have built so many illegal structures and rented them,” said a building owner. “This had hampered us from getting our ownership certificates from the thromde.”

Building owners also accuse operators of never responding or paying heed to their notices regarding any matter. “They have an agenda. They want to convince the government to give them some government land to build their own structures,” said the representative who accused Kuensel of favouring the operators. “Although the case is in the court after they were not happy with the dispute settlement committee’s decision, they have gone public with their case.”

Meanwhile, a workshop operator said that the illegal structures were canteen, space for denting and painting and others related to the operation of the workshop business. “There is no contractual agreement where the landlord would have any legal rights in its operation for providing services related to workshop as long as the contractual rental payment for the whole structure is paid,” he said.

“The lease agreement has no clauses to interfere or give eviction notice as long as the term and conditions specified of the lease agreement is complied by both parties and that the rent is paid as per the agreement and the rent is revised as per the tenancy act.”

Rinzin Wangchuk