Chhimi Dema 

Parking fee collection at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu is to ensure proper vehicle parking management, according to the hospital management.

The issue was raised during the National Assembly question hour on December 10.

Nanong-Shumar member of parliament (MP) Lungten Namgyel questioned the Minister of Information and Communications on the possibility of waiving the parking fees for patients.

There are four vehicle parking lots in the hospital with 200 vehicle parking slots. The parking fees are collected from 8 am to 9 pm.

For light vehicles, Nu 15 is collected for 30 minutes of parking, Nu 5 for two-wheelers, and Nu 20 for heavy vehicles.

Sonam Dorji, a hospital visitor, said that collecting a minimal parking fee could be an option. “Hospital visits take more than two hours and sometimes even longer. Then we have to pay about a hundred ngultrums.”

A parking fee collector said that there isn’t much profit from the parking fees collected. “Some days we have to pay from our pockets to meet the day’s collection,” he said.

In a day, parking fee collectors have to collect Nu 4,500. If they can collect more than Nu 4,500, they keep the extra earnings.

Minister of Information and Communications Karma Donnen Wangdi said there were incidents of people parking their vehicles for weeks in the parking lot. “Those visiting and residing in the hospital vicinity parked their vehicles in the parking area.”

He also said there were traffic congestion issues in the parking area and patients do not get parking. “JDWNRH is autonomous and the ministry doesn’t have much say.”

Parking fees have been collected since 2015.