Deja vu?

The Paro dzongkhag tshogdu has decided to have uniform signboards throughout Paro.

This is a welcome move, that should apply to all dzongkhags, but only as long as the uniformity is restricted to a certain level.

When it comes to the text there is a need to ensure that both Dzongkha and English is used.

Today, some signboards are only in English.

There is also a need to ensure correct spellings, grammar, and perhaps, the appropriateness of using certain words.

There is also a need to ensure proper placement of signboards and banners.

In certain areas, like on roads, there is a need for frequent signs as they contribute to safety.

However, there is no reason to have permanent commercial signboards along our roads or being strung up on street lamps and walls.

But there should be a boundary when it comes to uniformity of signboards.

At one point of time, all signboards were supposed to be blue in colour with white coloured letters.

Over the years, enforcement of the rule slacked and today we have a variety of signboards.

The important point to bear in mind is that ensuring aesthetic uniformity in the long-run seems to be a challenge for the implementing agencies.

The solution is to ensure what matters most, which is the message on the signboard, is correct. And for this to occur the content of a signboard should go through a screening process that would rectify spelling, grammar, factual and translation errors.

The aesthetics of the signboard should be largely left to the people.

Today, we see a growing number of signboards carved into wood which blends with our traditional architecture. If there is uniformity when it comes to the aesthetics of signboards we risk discouraging such creativity and stifle natural development.

Granted this could invite large blinking, gaudy neon signs on our streets, and so more options than just one design can be made available. Signboards could be reviewed on a case by case basis.

There are also more FDI companies entering Bhutan. If they are exempt from a uniform signboard requirement, then it would be fair to also exempt local businesses from the aesthetic requirements.

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