Vehicles: The recently distributed utility Bolero vehicles will serve as a constant reminder of the fulfillment of one of the most important tangible political promises in all 205 gewogs by the government.

However, concerns over possible misuse of the vehicles and the local government’s ability to maintain them have been raised. Not even a month has passed since the distribution of the vehicles on January 15, a few are already in bad shape.

For instance, the Bolero of Khaling gewog in Trashigang collided with a taxi on February 3, damaging parts of its front. The damage is expected to cost the gewog administration between Nu 20,000 and 27,000, according to the gewog’s gup Tashi Dorji.

“We will repair the vehicle tomorrow,” the gup told Kuensel on February 8. He expressed concerns that the fuel and maintenance budget may not be sufficient to maintain the Boleros.

Each gewog have been allocated with Nu 60,000 a year for expenses such as fuel, registration and renewal of vehicle documents, insurance, and maintenance. If such incidents occur frequently, gewogs will run out of the budget sooner than expected.

Another gewog in Trashigang, Radhi, incurred Nu 800 for repairing its Bolero that met with an accident while travelling in India. “Our Bolero met with a minor accident while travelling in India,” gup Kulung said.

The Department of Local Governance (DLG) has issued guidelines for usage of the Boleros. However, some people within local governments said the guidelines are vague and gives local leaders room for manipulation and misuse.

Without stringent and clear guidelines, more Boleros are likely to be misused and even damaged. While the gups will have the authority on usage, gewog administration officers function as the motor transport officers for the vehicles.

DLG director general Lungten Dorji said the guidelines are expected to prevent misuse and frequent accidents. He said the guidelines were prepared jointly by the finance and home ministries, and are similar to that of pool vehicle guidelines.

“With the help of the guidelines, local governments are expected to make a good use of the vehicles,” Lungten Dorji said.

The government distributed the vehicles during the ninth Local Government Chairpersons’ Conference (LGCC) held in Phuentsholing in January, taking into consideration the importance of local government and wangtse chirphel (decentralisation).

To ensure that there is true wangtse chirpel, the government believes that the people must be empowered at the grassroots level. The government promised to strengthen all gewog centres with more manpower and resources.

With the distribution of the vehicles, the government has delivered one of its biggest political promises. Local leaders have been pleased with the fulfillment of the promise.

People in the gewog can also hire the utility vehicle if required. The hiring charge would be based on the mileage system and will be cheaper than hiring private vehicles.

MB Subba