…driving institutes protest

Sherab Lhamo

Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority (BCTA) has started taking actions against the display of stickers and banners on vehicle bodies in accordance with the Road Safety Transport Regulations of 2021, specifically Section 423.

Driving institutes have been notified about these measures, causing dissatisfaction among them.

Section 423 of the Road Safety Transport Regulations stipulates that inappropriate billboards, banners, and stickers on vehicle exteriors are prohibited, with exceptions requiring approval from the Authority.

An official from BCTA clarified that all vehicles, including those belonging to the three armed forces, are prohibited from displaying inappropriate billboards, banners, and stickers on the vehicle’s bonnet, windows, and rear, regardless of whether they are registered with BCTA.

This measure, he said, was implemented to prevent distractions for other drivers on the road.

According to the official, vehicles are allowed to display billboards, banners, and stickers on both sides of the vehicle once they receive approval from the relevant authority. The letters on these displays should be no larger than 10 centimetres, and the color can be chosen freely.

These displays are intended to carry social messages, he emphasised. However, phone numbers are prohibited from being included in these displays. This restriction is in place to prevent the displays from being used for advertising purposes.

In response, driving institutes expressed their discontent and has written a letter to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

The representative of the driving institutes said that approval was obtained from the Quality and Standardisation Division under the erstwhile Ministry of Labour and Human Resources.

This approval, he argued, was sought to enhance the safety of driving school vehicles.

The representative also highlighted the costs involved, stating they incurred approximately Nu 3,500 to Nu 4,500 per vehicle to display the stickers. Removing the stickers, they say, could cost around Nu 3,000 more per vehicle.

The representative said that displaying information about the driving schools and contact numbers on vehicles serves as a cost-effective way to promote their business and presence in the market.

The representative said that Section 423 does not clearly define what constitutes appropriate billboards, banners, and stickers, nor does it provide clear guidelines for exceptional cases.

Director of City Bus Services (CBS), Pasang Tshering, said that CBS had obtained approval from the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), and BCTA for advertisements on their buses.

He added that from the revenue generated from these advertisements, CBS’s reliance on government funding has decreased from 50 to 30 percent.

The advertisements displayed on the buses have a maximum time limit of one month from the date of approval or until the relevant event they are promoting is concluded.

The smart card systems, allowing buses to be hired and displaying advertisements were the only sources of revenue for CBS.

He said the advertisement revenue is based on sharing basis, currently, Samuh is doing the marketing, designing, printing stickers and pasting it to the city buses. From which CBS is getting some percentage of the profit. He said yearly they have made around a minimum of 20,000 to 30,000 yearly.