BICMA requests RBP to investigate entertainment centres in Olakha

Residents complain of loud music and noise

Loud music from entertainment centres is keeping the residents of Olakha in Thimphu up late into the night.

A resident, Karma Dorji said he tries to sleep but cannot because of the music blaring from the drayangs in front of his home and the noise of vehicles and people after mid night.

The 64-year old sit by his bedroom window watching the crowd until 5am when the people start to leave. “Around 10-11pm, people start pouring into the entertainment establishments and stay until 5am,” he said.

He said there is nothing the residents can do but to remain silent in frustration and fear. “I tell my wife to let them do whatever they want because if we confront them they might even hit us being drunk.”

There are police personnel patrolling the area, Karma Dorji said but since they are few in numbers, they aren’t much help against the 200 to 300 people walking out of these establishments. “I have often seen people fighting and beating each other up. Even the establishment owners are unable to do anything.”

Another resident Yeshi Wangchuk, 27, said that even when the entertainment establishments are closed, customers are seen hanging around the area, drunk, shouting and fighting at times. “There is a lot of noise from vehicles especially between 1 to 3am.”

The father of one said the situation worsens during party nights on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Residents say that there have been incidents of people being stabbed and vehicles of residents being damaged in the area where drayangs, karaoke bars, and discotheques are operational. There are about five entertainment centres at the area.

Thimphu thromde and Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) in collaboration with Royal Bhutan Police inspect entertainment establishments at least once a week.

During the inspection the team makes sure that entertainment establishments fulfill the three criteria of security, safety and comfort.

Chief communications officer of licensing and compliance division with BICMA, Wangay Dorji, said that although most entertainment establishments were found complying with the rules, the team also found people hanging around the establishments in Olakha area after it was closed. “However, as a regulatory authority we do not have the right to chase the customers away.”

According to the rules governing places of entertainment 2017, discotheques can stay open until midnight during Wednesdays and 1am on Friday and Saturdays. Drayangs and karaoke bars can operate until 11pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Snooker stations can operate until 10pm every day.

Wangay Dorji said that during the inspection last week, one of the drayangs in Olakha was penalised for operating beyond time for the second time. “If found for the third time their license will be cancelled.”

He said that some of the licenses for entertainment establishments in the area are cancelled and that during inspections, most establishments are found closed on time. “Once it’s locked from outside, we don’t have the authority to break in and see what is going on inside. If those with cancelled license are still operating, then it’s illegal,” he said. “BICMA has requested police who has the authority to investigate the situation in Olakha.”

Rules governing places of entertainment 2017 state that the centres are issued a warning letter for the first violation and the license cancelled on the fourth violation.

However, Wangay Dorji said that the penalty would vary depending on the degree of the offence. If an offence is minor, such as not closing after few minutes of operation time, the establishment would be issued a warning letter. But if the establishment is found operating for hours after the operation time, they could be fined or licenses suspended on the first instance.

The 2014 rules governing places of entertainment allowed licenses to be issued to core business areas of the throm such as Olakha, Changjiji and Changzamtog. However, the revised rules allow licenses to be issued only along streets of Changlam, Norzin lam and Phendey Lam (Hongkong market area.)

There are 13 drayangs, five discotheques, about 87 snooker stations, 30 video game parlours and 41 karaoke bars in Thimphu throm.

Karma Cheki

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