The government is exploring options to relocate the existing automobile workshops from Olarongchhu to Pamtsho or Namseling or even further, according to the works and human settlement minister Dorji Tshering.

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering’s statement comes after the members of the Automobile Sector Association of Bhutan (ASAB) appealed to the ministers of works and human settlement and economic affairs on July 19 and 23 to allocate them government industrial land on long-term lease.

Lyonpo said that there are no vacant government land in Thimphu thromde today other than a private land identified to establish automobile workshops in Pamtsho. “We are exploring to move the existing workshops by negotiating with the landowners,” he said.

The workshop owners, however, said that since the new location is also on private land, the problem that could arise in the future would be the same.  On the issue between landowners and workshop operators, Lyonpo said that the issue would be discussed thoroughly to find an amicable solution.

“We are also exploring the second option to identify a suitable location in Namseling and beyond so that the existing workshops area which is located in the core Thimphu city could be relocated as a lasting solution,” Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said.

He said that the existing workshops were relocated in Olarongchhu from Changzamtog in 2008 when Olakha was at the periphery of the city. “Today, these automobile workshops fall in the middle of the thromde and we have to take necessary measures to relocate them to a suitable location,” lyonpo said.

The workshop operators’ outcry over the unlawful and exorbitant rent hike and issuing eviction notices by some building owners in Olakha appealed to the government, Thimphu thromde, Anti-Corruption Commission and Court for intervention.

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said that the problem could have triggered due to lack of terms and conditions that both parties – building owners and automobile workshops set after they moved from Changzamtog to Olakha. “Both parties didn’t execute any lease agreement (genja) on how long workshop operators can run or surrender the lease units,” he said.

There were around 32 workshops in 2008 when it was relocated in Olakha. Today, there are more than 80 workshops in the cramped Olarongchhu area.

Rinzin Wangchuk