About 30 house owners and shopkeepers of Norzin Lam approached the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) yesterday and alleged that the thromde did not consult them nor did they agree to the proposed 15-minute parking limit for vehicles on the street.

The thromde plans to do away with parking spaces along Norzin Lam.

Thrompon Kinley Dorjee in an earlier interview with Kuensel said that the Norzin Lam community agreed with the thromde’s plan to do away with parking spaces as long as the street is not closed to vehicles.

Vehicles would be allowed to park on the roadside with their hazard lights on for about 15 minutes at most.

However, at the meeting with BCCI yesterday, members of the Norzin Lam community alleged they were never consulted and that they came to know about the plan only through the media.

Both shopkeepers and house owners pointed out that the 15-minute parking duration would not be practical and that either the thromde keep the street as it is or the root cause of traffic congestion be studied to find a better solution.

There are about 230 parking spaces along Norzin Lam.

Many pointed out that the 15-minute parking limit would affect their businesses. Shopkeepers said they take more than an hour to load and unload goods. It was also pointed out that the customers would not have enough parking spaces and time to shop, which would lower their sales.

They pointed out that it is not only the customers or traders that congest traffic but also employees of various institutions and offices located along the street who park their vehicles in the slots for the entire day.

A restauranteur, Tashi, said that 15 minutes would not be enough for a customer to order  food, for the food to be cooked and then serve, and for the client to eat, which is why there is a need to reconsider the move.

Another shopkeeper said there are many hotels along the street that cater to regional tourists and the 15-minute limit would hamper businesses catering to such tourists.

“The thromde talks like we were informed and consulted but we did not receive any notification or letter from them,” the shopkeeper said. “The representatives also did not receive any kind of information.”

Building owners said that without parking spaces, tenants in the long run might opt for better places and vacate their apartments, which could also include shopkeepers which would decrease their income.

“I used to pay Nu 2,000 for various taxes but this time I had to pay Nu 19,800 with the taxes revised. If shopkeepers vacate, it would affect income generation not only for us but for the thromde as well,” Pemba, a building owner said.

Many of them said that if such a rule is to be implemented then the rule should be imposed on other streets as well.

“If it was, then we would not have made noise against the thromde’s decision. They did not take in the house owners’ concerns before deciding.”

There were also allegations made that there is a possible conflict of interest concerning the thromde’s multi-level car parks because around 70 shops will be allowed in or around the car parks.

“While the 15 minute parking rule would affect our business, the multi-level car park is going to benefit those shops,” said one of the shopkeepers.

BCCI secretary general Phub Tshering said they would take all the points raised by the communities and submit it to the thrompon for discussion. He added there is a need for an independent body to study the causes of traffic congestion and not the thromde. “If this doesn’t come through we may have to approach other relevant authorities.”

The thrompon said he would wait for BCCI officials to discuss the points raised by the community before commenting on the matter.

Yangchen C Rinzin