The new facility in Ngabiphu

Choki Wangmo

Even before the waste drop-off centre along Ngabiphu road is handed over to Thimphu Dzongkhag, commuters and residents have started using the facility.

People raised the issue on social media, as the facility constructed to ease the waste problem in the capital, is littered with overflowing waste in and around.

The National Environment Commission (NEC) constructed the facility under the National Waste Management Flagship Programme, and is among the first four waste drop-off centres constructed in Thimphu.

The dzongkhag administration is expected to monitor the waste collection and disposal once the infrastructure is handed to the dzongkhag next month.

“Properly dispose of your own waste. At least take a few seconds to dispose inside the facility. If we cannot use it wisely, it is better for the concerned agencies lift the facility for good,” a social media user wrote.

Another wrote that waste drop-off centres should be removed since it was worsening the waste issue. “Such garbage collection points have become an eyesore. Waste collectors should empty waste collection points regularly. We observe filthy overflows and unattended dumping around such points.”

Others blamed the low frequency of waste collection.

Another user wrote that through past experiences, if there was timely collection of waste, the situation would improve. “If we go by past practice, blame will go to users and not the system, and the facility gets removed.”

At the site, although the collected waste is regularly cleared, people dump it carelessly outside the facility, polluting the nearby forest and stream. The mixed waste—dry and wet—is disposed off together, emitting a pungent smell.

Residents blamed the commuters for misusing the facility, which people started using a month ago.

A resident in Ngabiphu said that commuters along the road dumped their waste from their vehicles, littering the whole area.

“Even after the waste is collected by the concerned agency, it piles up again. The wind blows the plastic waste into the nearby forests and stream,” she said.

A shopkeeper, San Maya Jimba, said that she paid private collectors Nu 200 every week to collect her waste. But the collectors often missed the routine. “When the waste piles up, people dump it in the nearby areas.”

However, commuters should be blamed for littering the waste facility, she said.

Another resident said that the Greener Way comes twice a week to collect from their neighbourhood but when the collection is untimely, she dumped it at the waste facility.

Founder of Greener Way, Karma Yonten, said that his team had been voluntarily clearing the waste for the past month. “We have collected 18 trips of waste in four weeks.”

He said that it was the users who were abusing the facility. “Even a small effort by placing garbage inside should address this issue. With regard to frequency of collection, no modality is developed, as it is a work in progress.”

Karma Yonten said starting from May 4, the company will start collecting the waste for a nominal fee until the facility is handed over to the dzongkhag next month.

Thimphu Dzongdag, Dorji Tshering, said that the commuters and residents were improperly dumping the waste. Although the facility was not handed over to the dzongkhag, he claims that the dzongkhag also cleared waste from the area a few times in the past.

By the end of this year, there are expected to be 11 drop-off centres including the existing drop-off centre at Kelki Higher Secondary School, according to the flagship program.