Thukten Zangpo 

The joint sitting of Parliament yesterday did not support the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) recommendation to relocate the Thimphu bus terminal.

The House was discussing the review report of the Royal Audit Authority’s performance audit report on the Safe and Sustainable Road Transport System 2022.

However, the House supported the committee’s recommendations that the government should implement Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), improve bus and taxi stops infrastructure and have information boards to be made available for travelers at the bus terminals or stops.

With the majority of the MPs raising concerns about the safety of the public transport system, the House included the new recommendation that the government should come up with policies and measures for a safe and quality public transport system.

Bartsham-Shongphu MP Passang Dorji proposed an additional terminal and to redesign the existing one.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that there was discussion that the Thimphu’s bus terminal was supposed to be relocated to Damchen Oil distributors in Olakha under the Public-Private Partnership model in 2019.

A three-storey building was to be built at the cost of Nu 2 billion (B) where 30 percent of the total budget was to be injected by the government, he said.

However, Lyonchhen said that relocation could not be done because it was not certain whether it would resolve the traffic congestion or not and it is of no use if the problem is transferred.

Works and Human Settlement Minister Dorji Tshering said that the ministry has redesigned the Lungtenzampa bridge into a three-storey structure where vehicles would ply in the first and second storey and people can walk in the third storey.

Gasa MP, Dorji Khandu, said that if some of the ministries could be relocated to the other dzongkhags, constructing more flyover bridges and underground tunnels could ease the traffic congestion in the capital city.

On BRTS, he said that in other countries, there are different routes for the public bus, emergency vehicles, and two-wheelers and the government could explore such routes.

Lyonchhen said that the government has plans to pilot the BRTS from Ngabirongchhu to Dechencholing in Thimphu.

He added that when the expressway was planned there was no BRTS.

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering also said that it would not be feasible to construct tunnels. He said that constructing a 760-metre tunnel costs Nu 1.5B and the budget could build about 50 kilometre surface road instead.

Mongar MP, Karma Lhamo, said that the committee should include safety including public transport availability and affordability.

Members said that the government should also look into the public transport facilities in rural areas.

Chhoekhor-Tang MP, Dawa, said that the local governments can ask for support if the particular area does not have public transport services.

Punakha MP, Lhaki Dolma, said that differently-abled people constitute 2.1 percent of the population and has to be included in a friendly public transport system.

Chairperson Ugyen Tshering said that the agencies concerned had a discussion with the government and there are plans to make public transport friendly for differently-abled people.

Lyonchhen said that the government would distribute the city buses depending on the number of the population.

He said that Thimphu Thromde has a population of 140,000, 18,000 in Phuentsholing, and 8,000 in Samdrupjhongkhar.

Dewathang-Gomdar MP Ugyen Dorji proposed the additional school buses for the school-going children and staggered time for office goers.