Fatality: April 1, Changzamtog, Thimphu.  A wall collapsed on seventy-three-year-old Amrit Bhadur Rai.  Hours later, at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Amrit, a municipal worker with Thimphu thromde, was declared dead.

Amrit and his friends were cleaning the drain below the wall when part of the wall came crashing down.

Man Maya Rai, Amrit’s wife, 75, said her husband woke up early that morning because he was worried that the thromde would have arrived at the work site for official visit.  Weeks before, thromde workers were warned that some of them would have to go because of excess workers.  A sincere and hard working person, Amrit did not want to be late.

The wall that came off is now being rebuilt.  But an investigation is underway.

Ugen Lhamo, assistant engineer with the thromde, said that, to rebuild the wall, the proprietor has to seek approval from the thromde. “As far as we know, we aren’t aware of the permission given to rebuild the wall.”

The thromde’s investigation team has submitted a preliminary report to the thromde management, and is due to submit a technical report.  According to the preliminary report, the wall was constructed a long time ago.

Sangay Wangdi, head of thromde’s road section, said “Anyone can tell the quality of the wall by looking at it. It’s not exactly a wall but just a stack of stones.”

Investigation has not yet established whether the wall was built with the approval from the thromde, and whether it is on private land.

The investigation team also could not find out whether the house owner has approval from the thromde to construct parking space above the wall that came crumbling down.

“We’ll have a clear picture when we get the technical report,” said Sangay Wangdi.

Minjur Dorji, the thromde’s executive secretary, said a committee was working on establishing when the wall was built, and whether it was done with approval from the thromde.

“If the wall was built with approval from the thromde, then it isn’t an issue. Accidents happen,” said Minjur Dorji. “The thromde can’t blame the owner of the house without proper investigation. If the wall was built with government money, then the contractor should be held accountable and the site engineer investigated.”

Sangay Wangdi said that, although it was important that thromde workers have safety gear, roadside cleaner get only face mask, gloves and boots.  Thromde’s road section has 135 people working on daily wage.

According to labour ministry’s regulations on working conditions 2012: an employer or the insurer shall pay a lump sum amount to the dependents of an employee, who dies as a result of a work-related injury or disease, such amount to be a minimum of equivalent to 1080 days of the national minimum wage.

An employer or the insurer shall also compensate the dependants of an employee, who dies as a result of a work-related injury or disease, for loss of earnings equivalent of 70 percent of the employee’s last month’s basic wage/pay, before the deduction of income tax, excluding overtime payments, allowances and other benefits for a period of 1 year from the date of death.

“We’ll give the benefits accordingly,” said Minjur Dorji.

Amrit is survived by his wife and two sons.

By Dechen Tshomo