Planning our inner roads

It is only a matter of time before a newly blacktopped road is dug up to either repair a leaking pipe, or replace electrical cables, among other reasons. Sometimes the dug up part is blacktopped again, but often the work is of poor quality and the patch up work disintegrates or sinks.

This is indicative that there is a lack of coordination between our agencies. Agencies may be working in silos, in this case, one blacktops without knowing that the other is planning to lay electrical cables in the next few months which would require digging up the road again.

It is a shame that while so many agencies attribute budget constraints for their lack of action that such wasteful habits can occur.

It also raises the question of why modern solutions are not being adopted and implemented by the agencies. Our engineers and planners have been to other countries, some for years for further studies, and are well exposed to modern techniques.

Even an observer with no engineering background would be able to see that digging permanent routes or ducts across and under the roads, through which all cables and pipes can pass, may be a solution.

The thromde has invested much in improving the condition of our roads and other infrastructure in preparation for the 60th Birth Anniversary celebrations. We want such improvements to last long.

Investing in such ducts would be one way of keeping our roads in good condition.

Investing in a system and people that improves coordination among agencies, and planning within agencies, would be a small price to pay for long run efficient spending.

It is also questionable how it is decided which roads should be blacktopped in Thimphu city.

Norzin lam which was in comparatively better condition received a new layer of black top in recent months when other vital roads in the city are pockmarked with potholes, like craters on the moon. We’re also aware that Norzin lam is not open to heavy vehicle traffic and will eventually be closed to vehicle traffic altogether.

It may make more sense to improve the side roads that inter connect the main arteries so that traffic is encouraged to flow away from the main roads.

The number of vehicles plying on our roads are growing and will continue to do so. It is obvious that our road infrastructure hasn’t kept up and is struggling to do so. It is high time that the planning and building of roads in Thimphu city becomes a highly professional affair, not only so that we can have smoother rides, but because our taxes need to be utilized more efficiently.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    It’s important to calculate and know our fiscal deficits; so is the matter with different departments needing to plan their respective expenditure budgets in time. It’s indeed a pain for any citizen to notice these lack of coordination in planning while different projects by different departments get executed on the same sections of roads at different times. Sad part is that the condition of the road may become worse when all the projects come to an end for that year.

    A city will need a better network of roads if the plan is to work on longer stretch of a road for any project at one time. Something like permanent ducts across and under our roads is always a right way forward. But such planning requires a long term project specific approach and yet, projects need to be carried out at a real brisk pace to avoid inconvenience to the end users. That’s where pace of work demands a continuous flow of funds while departments complain about the budget restrictions.

    One of the solutions may be in creation of a fund to ensure both continuous and revolving financing of these projects to be curved out from the regular annual budget financing mechanism. Exploring a PPP or the Thromde linked SPV model is also a possibility. What can’t be denied though is that different departments involved have to come together for more coordinated planning and continuity in project execution. Whenever there are overlapping of budget expenditures on a same section of road, multiplication of wasteful expenditures is almost inevitable. Every single deficit can’t probably be recovered by multiplying incomes on the same source.

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