Twelve families of municipal workers moved in to their new home in Changangkha, Thimphu on Saturday. This is a significant development that the thromde has initiated considering the kind of rough-and-ready houses they have been compelled to live in so far.

For all the vital services that they provide along the city roads rain or shine, everyday, municipal workers under the thromde’s wing have to live difficult lives on meagre pay. And, for all the hard work they put in, theirs is a vastly thankless job.

Thimphu thromde deserves our commendations for stepping up to improve the welfare of our municipal workers. It might have taken thromde quite a while to build quarters for municipal workers, but at least some of them now have what could be called sturdy and habitable home with basic essential amenities.

Good news is that the thromde has plans to build such small quarters for municipal workers in Babesa and Olakha also.

Where municipal workers live today could easily qualify as slums. And they are growing. Although people high up on the social strata often resolutely refuse to recognise these settlements as slums, their arguments measure up to nothing because the fact doesn’t change. A slum is a slum however one might want to define, however much unpleasing the word might sound to one’s overly refined aural sense.

What we must not forget is the safety of the people living in such small but growing settlements on the fringes of the city. The little shacks are built too close to each other with dangerously overhanging electric wires. In case of fire, nothing could be saved. The whole settlement will be razed to the ground within seconds. That’s how precariously some of our people live.

Health and sanitation is a concern in such settlements too. When outbreak of diseases occurs, settlements like these in Changangkha, Changedaphu and Motithang are exposed to serious health risks. Children living in these settlements are highly vulnerable to abuses and attacks that will affect them their entire lives.

Budget must be sought and plans made. Thromde must build more secure homes for the low-income people under its wing.