The signboard standardisation rule is upon us again. Thimphu Thromde is expected to implement the rule very soon, which means signboards in the city will have to be designed as per the guidelines and should be approved by the authorities. In the event of noncompliance, person or business responsible will be fined according to the number of days of violation.

What we also know from the plan is that a building’s face will be allowed to have a maximum of three types of signage. The signage, however, cannot overlook the architectural elements of the building.

Eleven years ago, in 2005, the thromde’s plan for uniform signboards was shot down by Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS). The argument was that having uniform signboards didn’t make any sense and didn’t help anybody.

The argument to implement the rule now is that there is a need to create city’s unique identity. Uniform signboards will, of course, help shape city’s identity. Our buildings in the city will look good and clean. But what is more important is that we give special regard to safety aspects. Many business entities in the city today have signboards that hang precariously, posing risks to shoppers and pedestrians.

Some thromde officials are of the view that many signboards in the city contain unnecessary information, including inappropriate graphics, but not the necessary information like contact details. When we talk about uniform signboard rule, we talk about how the signboards must look, their shape and size, font and colour, among others. We may be going a little too far with this because we must also allow space for creativity. That’s why MoWHS did not approve of thromde’s idea in 2005. To many the rule of uniform signboards created a lot of inconveniences.

The guideline is, as we speak, subject to review. The thromde has posted the draft guideline on its website and has invited individuals and organisations for review and comments. The thromde should invite as many businesses as possible and consult with them so that the rule doesn’t become the cause inconvenience later.