The capital city’s problem of the ever-increasing number of vehicles could provide the perfect solution to the thromde who had failed to implement its rules on parking.
Thimphu with 57,697 vehicles as of June 30, is crying for space. The new roads or space the thromde is creating cannot keep up with the demand for space to park cars. Without parking space, our roadsides become alternate parking. But this is not fair for others, especially pedestrians. There are footpaths, but it is not accessible because vehicles block them, as in the eyes of the motorist, every inch of space is a parking space.
Implementers of the parking rule, traffic police, are penalising people who make roads their parking. We should support the police. This is not to penalise the owner of a car. Building owners are supposed to provide parking space for their tenants. This is ensured as early as the planning stage. If there is no space, the building owner is supposed to create one. On paper, it is the grand plan of turning the basement into parking.
What happens after the owner gets the building occupancy certificate is there for everyone to see. This requirement is violated, abused, raped (use whatever term you can think of) when the building is complete. We need not do any study or research. Drive a few kilometres north or south of Changlimithang stadium. The evidence is there. Violators of the building rules include policymakers, lawmakers, those implementing them or monitoring them. Don’t be surprised if the list includes prime ministers, former or serving, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, police or town planners.
Vehicle numbers will increase and increase drastically if we go by the current trend. Dealers are overwhelmed with orders to the extent that 20 to 30 new vehicles are sold on the day of the launch of a new brand. There are schemes – discounts, ways to get import quota, loans and many more. It is too good to resist the temptations. And when the public transport is not efficient or reliable, the next best thing is buying a car, even if 60 percent of the monthly salary is deducted to pay the car loan.
We take pride in our environment, the policy of Gross National Happiness and many more. When it comes to buying vehicles, all these take backstage. Those who lecture on GNH are driven by consumerism. It is a national shame for not living up to the guiding principles of our approach to development.
Tenants who are penalised for parking on roadsides should charge their building owner. The rule is clear. A tenant with a car has to be provided with a parking space. If he owns more than one, it is his or her headache.
If the thromde and police can work together, we will see a solution. Those who are aware of laws are encouraging tenants to press their landlord for parking space. We should have provisions where penalties are shifted to landlords for not providing parking space. This will ensure the architectural drawing submitted for approval will be followed.
Local municipalities had been saying that they would severe basic amenities like water and electricity to building owners who violate rules. It had not happened. It is not fair to leave it or blame the elected Thrompon. The bureaucracy should not leave it all to the Thrompon. Violations of rules affect all.