Not learning from mistakes

The holes are visible, wide and deep, but there are no ending in the sight. Dug about two weeks ago along a busy road in a busier commercial area in Changzamtog, it is, residents say, a disaster in the waiting.

The first victim was lucky. A Bolero pickup truck fell into the pit. There were no casualties. The next one would not be so lucky. The road has become narrow and traffic movement is not restricted. The whole stretch is in a mess.

This is happening after we have learnt many lessons, some the hard way. Construction sites are prone to accidents. We know that too. Innocent lives were lost unnecessarily. It will be a tragedy if we do not learn from our mistakes and see another mishap.

We cannot blame the contractor who is also on the losing side. The issue is of coordination or lack of it. The traffic does not want to close the road. They fear causing inconvenience to commuters. There are power lines and poles in the line of work. It has to be removed for the work to progress and complete. Then there are sewage manholes which could be damaged during excavation.

These are not new to us. We have been digging and digging again the Thimphu roads since we built them. We dig them to lay sewerage lines, then to lay electricity lines, optic fibres and then to upgrade them all. We make footpaths and we dig them up to make another and then another. In short, we keep digging our town.

While we have dug roads and roadsides and filled them, we have not learnt that it will not be the end. From the number of times we dug the whole town we should by now know where the cable lines, the optic fibres or the electricity cables are. A coordinated effort would have eased the work and minimised inconveniences.

There will be no end to digging if there is no coordination. What if the work started after the Bhutan Power Corporation relocated its electric lines, the thromde marked the sewerage manholes and the traffic created a diversion? What if we started one stretch at a time? These are questions, logical questions, the lay people – shopkeepers and owners of small eateries are asking.

The capital’s mayor is not even aware of the issues.  Somewhere, something is obviously missing. Like he said, if there was some coordination, there could have been solutions. The Bhutan Power Corporation, through televised announcement, has been urging people to inform them before they start digging to prevent damages to their infrastructure even as the work was happening.

The hume pipes the thromde had contracted out to be laid will be used to lay cables besides serving as sewerage lines. Hopefully, we will not have to dig it up to expand or lay some more pipes or cables.

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