Soon the Election Commission will announce thromde tshogde elections in the three thromdes of Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Thimphu.

The aspiring thrompon and thuemi candidates are connecting with their friends and relatives to garner support in the upcoming election.  But it’s not their fate alone the election will decide.  The bigger impact will on the lives of each and every resident.

Successful towns and cities are increasingly being recognised as critical to the health of national economies.  Success does not happen by chance but as a result of good planning based on a long-term vision and co-ordinated implementation.

Implementation of the carefully drawn Thimphu structural plan has become botched.  There is no need for breaking our heads to find someone to blame, but what we must do is think about how we can still save the city for posterity.

Residents know better than anybody about the problems.  Many things need to improve to enable residents to live cleaner and healthier lives.  The thromdes are reeling under many problems today.  This is the time, albeit belatedly, to ask the tough questions and push for the much-needed improvements: services, infrastructures, and facilities. 

Residents don’t mind paying for services so long as they are reliable.  Is 24-hour water supply too much to ask in the capital city?  What about public transport? Will Norzin Lam be pedestrianised?  Better waste management?  We definitely need more.

We can’t emphasise more on the importance of community vitality for a society that aspires to achieve Gross National Happiness.  Our towns lack children parks and open public spaces.  A few that opened years ago continue to remain agonisingly in a state of prolonged disrepair.

The question is simple: are our thromdes liveable, environmentally sustainable, or aesthetically Bhutanese?  What will be their identity in the next five, 10 or 15 years?

The least aspiring candidates can do is talk to residents.  Find viable solutions to the problems.  

A new healthy habit for the candidates would be to focus more on solving these issues than throwing lavish dinners or giving out expensive gifts to reconnect with potential voters.  

Voters should understand why they are voting or who they are choosing.  If not, there is time to question what the new thrompon aspirants can do for the thromde and its residents.