Thinley Namgay   

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have made virtual meetings an important part of office life.

However, slow or poor internet has been a major challenge with most people.

Most organisation uses a zoom platform, which requires a good internet connection but people from places with slow internet connections are unable to take part in the actual conversation.

Participating in zoom meeting is difficult mainly for the local leaders of the highland communities where poor network is frequently disturbed by cold weather, snowfall, and wind.

Lingzhi Gup Wangdi said: “Zoom platform is helpful for people with stable internet. It is challenging for us. I couldn’t attend the online meeting even once in the last two years.”

Wangdi said he raised the issue in the WhatsApp group of local leaders. “The timing and meeting information was also not clear from the authorities.”

He had to ask his friends with good network connection to record the session for him.

“The Dzongkhag Tshogdu Thrizin sent me the recording of a meeting with the Prime Minister on March 16. It was about the change in Covid protocol,” Wangdi said.

He said the Prime Minister’s office, Anti-Corruption Commission and finance ministry mainly use the zoom platform to discuss essential agendas with the local government leaders.

Soe Gup Kencho Dorji said the 4G network in Soe is just for a namesake. “Even the 3G network is not working.”

He said he had to sometimes go to the gewog’s remote area and when suddenly asked by the authorities to attend the zoom meeting, it was problematic.

Kencho Dorji said the Thimphu dzongkhag administration had not conducted a virtual meeting so far with its local leaders. “Regarding the Dzongkhag Tshogdu, local leaders have been indulging in the face-to-face meeting as of now.”