Dagana dzongkhag administration’s monitoring committee penalised two contractors for compromising the quality of a six-unit classroom building in Tsangkha MSS last week.   

The poorly constructed partition walls and reinforced concrete beams of the building were dismantled and ordered to rebuild them as per the required standards.  The committee took similar decisions last year also. 

While the country is hugely resource-strapped and compelled to drop even significant projects, such actions send out a strong and timely message. That it is happening in a dzongkhag where a few years ago an irrigation canal  was “misaligned” due to poor monitoring, is an encouraging sign. 

Like a Dagana official said, if they had not visited to monitor the construction work on time, they would not have noticed the defect  and the repercussions would have been serious. Even the best of auditors, post-construction, often fail to detect many of the compromises the builders make during the construction process. 

For instance, many drains, roads and other public infrastructure disintegrate in just one or two years after construction. From 700 works executed by the contractors and consultants between 2016 and 2017, 80 percent of works had quality issues.

Not long ago, the Anti-Corruption Commission’s report showed poor supervision, monitoring and enforcement as one of the five reasons for poor roads in the country. And the construction sector has the highest number of lapses and malpractices according to the Royal Audit Authority (RAA)’s reports.  

Auditors also observed that the bidding system in awarding of works to lowest bidders leads to poor project quality. Rules can and must be amended. 

The construction sector should  act against those who tarnish the sector’s image through such blatant violations. The guilty must be fixed; suspend or cancel their business. 

Gross National Happiness in simple terms is about timely delivery of quality services and serving fellow citizens well. 

Works and human settlement ministry has initiated some reforms to streamline several rules and procedures to enhance and promote quality construction but the enforcement of these provisions remains weak and ineffective. Thus, despite the growth of investment in the construction of infrastructure progress of construction industry in terms of professionalism remains poor. 

Dismantling a small part of a wall, for example, may not be a major issue for the officials executing works worth Nu 12.9 million, but it raises an important question: how are we using our precious little resource?

The Dagana incident is an example that must receive support of the government because only by doing so can we instill respect for a culture of holding the responsible individuals to account.

In the long run, that is how our society must evolve.