Every monsoon we are reminded of how poor our sewerage systems are. A few minutes’ rain wreaks havoc in the streets and city corners far and near. Our roads literally flood because clogged city drains are not able to handle the amount of water when it comes. These are times when we get rain day in, day out, almost. The picture then is one of mayhem.

Yesterday, Thimphu’s main street Norzin Lam was a river pretty much as it continued to rain since morning. So was the road below Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital. In lower Changzamtog, the stretch between STCBL showroom and Deki School was a sizeable lake of muddy water.

It is during such times that our manholes burst to glory, frothing up and spurting fountains of human filth. We see this unfailingly happen every year, yet have not had the resolve to mend it all. It was all right when Thimphu was small, quite really small in terms of population and number of buildings. But over the years the city has grown, adding pressure on the city’s sewerage system. Going by the current rate of population growth in the city, the problem could become unmanageable in the future.

The thromde allows construction of more than 100 buildings within the city precinct every year. The problem, however, is not the number of new buildings coming up. It is one of implementation of rules that requires building owners to build their own septic tanks and soak pits to manage wastewater. More significantly, it is the way we build our drains that do not connect to one efficient conduit to channel out wastewater. Adding to the problem, people dispose of solid wastes carelessly into the sewage channels, leading to blockages.

It is indeed wonderful that most of the buildings in the Thimphu do not even have drains. How the construction of buildings without provisions for drains even pass through, we do not know. It is here, it seems, that all our problems begin to brew.

If done one at a time, this problem can certainly be solved. We could begin by making the owners of the buildings without drainage system pay until they set about constructing drains to channels out their wastewater. More importantly, however, we should look at the way we align our roads so that they do not become giant pools whenever there is a little rain.

But then, one way or the other, it is the thromde’s responsibility entirely and the denizens of the city should hold the office accountable.