Making Thimphu a fine city

The first public appearance of the capital city’s mayor after getting elected for a second term didn’t go well with some of the capital city’s residents.

Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee, with a team of inspectors were penalizing people who were littering the city and not following the thromde’s rule. Words following the inspection team was that the Thrompon had nothing to fear, as his job for the next five was secured last month.

Being an elected Thrompon is difficult.  They can be unpopular if they are strict with rules. The city and residents will suffer if the elected leader takes a populist decision and let people break rules- from littering to breaking construction norms, for instance.

If the capital city has to be clean, those who dirty them should be penalized. The carrot rule is not working. In fact, the numerous voluntary cleaning campaigns organized has emboldened those who run business or shoppers to litter the city. There is a notion that someone is cleaning the city. Nobody takes responsibility.

Building owners should be fined. Those who run businesses should be fined, too if they are contributing to the problem. Ours could be among the few towns and cities where, for instance, prohibited area for dumping waste becomes a dumpsite. The thromde alone cannot clean the city. It is the responsibility of all.

The thromde is cash strapped and there is revenue from penalizing building owners or businesses.  It is difficult to part with money even if it is a big business house or a rich landlord. Therefore, monetary fines would work. We welcome the initiative.

But rules should be clear. People should be well informed in advance so that there are no hard feelings when they are penalized. It works in many cities. People pay for violating rules. It is normal.

The rule should also be fair. It should apply to all without discriminating “big and small” or “rich and poor”. The thromde will win the support of the masses if the rule is implemented fair and square.

If the thromde can collect Nu 104,300 in three hours, either there is a good source of revenue or the city’s residents are not cooperating. The city will be lot cleaner and more beautiful when the amount drops to a bare minimum.

The rule should not be limited to the core town. It should apply to all the places between Changtagang and Ngabirongchu. The thromde will be richer by millions if it takes its rule seriously and apply to all areas. Beyond the city, the local governments could take up.

There is a lot of work to do. Without budget, the biggest hurdle, our drains cannot be cleared, potholes cannot be filled and garbage cannot be managed. The revenue should be ploughed back to improve the city by beautifying it or improving facilities and infrastructures.

Surprise checks should be frequent because people have tricks up their sleeves to avoid being penalized. Sooner or later, people will imbibe the culture of maintaining their surrounding clean.

A good deterrent is the warning of disconnecting service like water supply and electricity, if building owners are not cooperating. Without services owners and tenants will be affected.

The thromde officials should stick to their rule and not waver. They have finally found a solution and this will work if monitored closely.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    The lead story today talks about the economy not generating quality jobs. And here in this post, we are once again discussing a thromde’s challenges in turning developments into a fine city. What’s remained obvious though is that no thromde can develop a city without being allotted with the required budget. Economic growth is what drives the sources from which a good budget can actually be resourced.

    Employment generation becomes a key task for any government as this is what directly contributes to immediate economic growths. But any such immediately achieved growth may not induce quality in the growth process. For jobs to be offered for quality of an economy; the economic planning process needs to maintain its focus on quality oriented growth over a long period of time. The plan also needs to include all the agents of the economy whether it’s purely government or public or just private. No economy can guarantee quality job creation if any of those broad three agents is not intended for delivering a quality economy through their respective businesses.

    And things are never easier in today’s economies especially in the case of a country like Bhutan where government still remains the major employer. Problem is that we always want to visualise economic growth through developments of our cities or districts or villages. Or we just want to see all our youths to be employed once they finish schools or colleges. When any of the agents is mainly dependant on fines as a major source of revenue and still absorbs considerable amount of an annual budget to drive physical or infrastructure related growth; no economy can expect that other agents will only generate revenue to pay fines. Any strict rule and monetary penalty is bound to generate revenue; but it’s usually over-consumption or production in an economy that leads to wastes of some kinds. Political cycles are new for a democratic Bhutan of today; but not all can eventually be employed by the agents which are not responsible for delivering businesses or commerce. Every consumption doesn’t lead to a quality in production and if every agent aspires to grow in the economy only through consumption; our present and future thromdes will have tough time dealing with wastes of all kinds…physical or purely economical. So we need to keep quality job creation in mind as well when our towns grow into fine cities of future.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply