Olakha workshop road in dire need of improvement

Jigmi Wangdi  

If you need to repair your car and drive to the Olakha automobile workshops, be prepared for a bumpy ride that could damage your car more. The road to the workshop area and inside the workshop area is filled with potholes, it is dusty and the speed breakers make car owners wince as they dent the bottom of the car.

This is the condition of the roads within the vicinity of the workshop located at Olakha. And it has been that way for months. Other than the dusty roads jammed with broken down vehicles waiting to be fixed or sold as scrap, there is overflowing sewerage and water showing a clear sign of a lack of a proper drainage system.

There are not many workshops besides Olakha or choices left.

It was built as a model, according to the president of the Automobile Sector Association of Bhutan (ASAB), Karma Tenzin. If the rest of the workshops around the country follow the Olakha model, it is all ‘greased’ up.

“It is high time relevant agencies and the government start taking initiatives and planning properly now,” says the president. “These workshops weren’t opened here a few years ago. It has been around for 14 years now and it was moved here to set a standard for workshops in the country.”

The president shakes his head when asked about the problems. “Our problems cannot be listed. There are too many,” he says. The workshop is too congested and the roads are so bad that a vehicle exiting, after a repair, takes about 30 minutes to get to the main road.

Karma said that ASAB can only improve the effectiveness of the services the workshops provide. Improving infrastructure such as the road, water, drainage and sewerage, needs the help of the government or the thromde.

The ASAB met with thromde and readied all the plans to improve the road and drainage in the workshop area. But the thromde could not start the work because they did not have the budget. He said that they have also worked together with the traffic police and Road Safety and Transport Authority to improve roads entering the workshop.

Coordination and cooperation among workshop operators and building owners are seen as an alternative to improve the infrastructure. According to a workshop owner, Kinley, the road conditions around his workshop became worse after Thromde demolished the illegal structures in the workshop area in June of this year. “After demolishing the structures, a thromde official told me that they will start blacktopping the roads in the workshop within 14 days, that was five months ago,” he said.

Some car owners jokingly blame workshop owners for deliberately messing up the road to the workshop to make extra income. “There are risks of our cars getting damaged when driving to the workshop,” said one, hinting at the bad roads.

He added that thromde should conduct proper planning before carrying on with the works. “If they (thromde) are cash-strapped, they shouldn’t have demolished the structures. It would have been convenient to everyone if they started making the roads right after the demolishment. The road has become worse now and it causes a nuisance to customers,” he said.

A thromde official, in an email interview, said that the workshop area development package, plans and design for proper drainage system, sewer and water network as well as road improvement and public parking are included and have been completed. “We have been unable to start the project because of a lack of funds. As soon as we receive the budget, the work will be carried out,” the official said.

The bigger problem is it is not sure when the thromde will get the fund.