Yangyel Lhaden

Iron Female Ox year-Thimphu Thromde: It was a year of change for Thimphu thromde beginning with the change in leadership of the biggest thromde in the country.

Campaigning on the promise of change, the former Deputy Chief Urban Planner, Ugyen Dorji, became the second democratically elected Thrompon of Thimphu. He ousted the former thrompon Kinlay Dorjee in a landslide victory on April 29.

The new Thrompon inherited several problems of which he was a part as the deputy chief urban planner.  The biggest sewage treatment plant in Babesa ready for inauguration was shut down after the treatment plant could not treat sewage and did not meet effluent parameters of sewage treatment plant discharge standards of National Environment Commission. The thromde was criticised for rushing for inauguration before the facility was ready. The plant resumed in October with an automated system and  thromde officials claim that the plant is able to treat sewage now.

After the controversial decision to decongest the Centenary Farmers’ Market, the Ox year kept the thromde building  structures. The thromde constructed vegetable markets in zones across Thimphu. The new markets didn’t solve the old problem   as both CFM vendors and those selling from the zones kept complaining. Many complaints of business not picking up in zones while CFM vendors were reluctant to leave their spot at CFM. The government allowed operation of CFM at one-third of its capacity angering vendors who left earlier for the zones. The Thromde reduced rent for vegetable markets in the zones.

The construction of the overhead pedestrian bridge in Olakha took more than a year to complete. When it was finally completed in September, the bridge was found to be unstable and a different contractor worked on it to fix it.  It finally opened for public use on December 16.

Another change was in the parking fee. Beginning April, the parking fees across all areas in the city was raised to Nu 20 for every 30 minutes. Before the hike, the parking along the Norzin Lam was Nu 15 per 30 minutes and other areas were Nu 10.

The increase drew a lot of criticism from the public and even reached the parliament for intervention.  The raise in parking fee was according to a concession agreement signed between KCR Private Limited and Thimphu Thromde which was why the government couldn’t reduce the fare. KCR Private Limited manages 943 parking slots in Thimphu city’s core area and two MLCPs.

To improve reliability and efficiency of urban public transport, City Bus Services imported 27 new buses equipped with global positioning system and facilities like smart card reader connected with Gakyid Ride application.

Poor drainage system and surface run-off water is an evergreen problem of the city during summer but untimely rain in October last year caused surface run-off water which destroyed concrete slabs of drainage in Dondrup Lam flooding the road and  ground floor meat shop.

The situation became uncontrollable and this forced thromde office to close the road to traffic.

A rusted streetlight pole in Changjiji housing colony injured a woman and she succumbed to injuries after more than eight months of the accident. Her case is still on-going. Thimphu Dzongkhag has conducted five hearings of the case till date.

Thimphu Thromde came up with redeveloped Norzin Lam Project— streetscaping and revamping drainage system—to execute from November 2021 but it’s on hold due to on-going review of Thimphu Structural Plan (TSP).All major developments in Thimphu is on hold and should align with revised TSP.

A highlight of the thromde activity in the year of the Ox was the construction of the four-lane road between Jungshina and Bhutan Telecom Office in Chubachhu. After prolonged delays, the thromde under pressure from public and other sources was able to construct the road by end of October.