A small stretch of road near Dantak, Thimphu, was closed for traffic since Monday. It is only about seven metres, not much in length. It was not a disaster.
But when it comes to inconvenience, it is a huge problem, although commuters grumble and take the next shortest detour. Everything is forgotten until they return home.
There is a bigger problem- the problem of causing damage to public infrastructure.
The road is at risk because its foundation is dug when excavating the foundation of a private building.
Ironically, the damaged road is in the same locality where a longer stretch of road was closed to traffic for a year. It was nobody’s fault. The stretch was damaged when the owner was dismantling her old house to be replaced by a new one. She had informed authorities. The road sunk and some portions gave away.
The current one too is not the construction owner’s doing. He got the approval to build his house. He dug too deep to make the road unsafe for vehicles!
In Bhutan, these things keep happening. The thormde or the roads department will build a road, blacktop it and make pavements. Then others will come and dig the road, lay their pipes, destroy the pavement, make speed bumps, stuff stones in the drain to make access road to their plot.
It is ok. Everybody does it.
This is because the government will come and repair all that is damaged, destroyed or stolen. It is the responsibility of the Zhung!
There are rules and regulations. If it is the people’s fault, they will have to repair or restabilise it to the original state. The rules must have been followed. But it is the time taken. Repairing a public property is not the priority. It will be done when everything is completed. Usually it takes months if not years.
Kuensel following the story was misconstrued as making a mountain of a mole hill. We are not against the construction owner or the thromde. The bigger issue is public infrastructure. Even bigger is taking ownership of public property.
Nobody takes ownership of public property. That’s why our roads are not lasting long, the slides in the parks are not fit for use after a few months, our road are dug up- the list is long.
A private individual will build a grand hotel, damage public property and expect the government to repair it. This is why we are a poor country with rich people. Everything that costs money is left to the state.
All these are happening in Thimphu, the commercial and political capital of the country. We can only guess what is happening in our dzongkhags.
If we are to develop public infrastructure for better service delivery, we have to take ownership. If people are not willing to take part, we have to fix accountability. If a building owner is digging up the road to lay his water pipes, he should fix it overnight.
How can one private individual cause inconvenience to hundred others that too by damaging a public property?
This happens only in Bhutan.