The Department of Roads has launched an information system to provide travellers with realtime information on road conditions throughout the country.

This should help travellers avoid unnecessary travel, long queues as a result of blocks, and wastage of resources like fuel.

Such a system will be particularly helpful in times of disaster like during the recent heavy rains that caused numerous blocks throughout the country. The blocks, particularly on the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway caused chaos and traffic jams with travellers sometimes being allowed past points only to be sent back again.

The roads department, roads safety organisation, police, and the Prime Minister, among others, kept the country updated through social media on road conditions. Sometimes the information conflicted. The system should be able to provide users with consolidated and verified information that travellers can rely on.

The system will also be able to show users and agencies that certain roads have still not been linked such as the Dungna in Chukha and Choekhorling in Samdrupcholing gewog connectivity roads, more than a month after they were damaged.

The information will be provided on a real-time basis. We are hopeful.

There have been ICT initiatives where after a big start and colourful promises, it slowly fades into oblivion as a result of lack of resources or some other challenge.

One way the system can be sustained is if public participation can be incorporated into the system. For instance, during the recent heavy rains, many uploaded information about blocks and other situations. If the system can allow the public to also update the system, provided the information can be verified by a second party, all the better.

The system could even go further by utilising other kinds of public generated information such as on potholes and road quality, or even suggestions on improving traffic flow.

Public participation can also be used to identify those roads that may not have been built as per required standards and hold someone accountable, besides getting the road repaired.

The potential of the system in ensuring Bhutan has better quality roads is high. We congratulate the ministry for exploiting technology in this direction.