Thimphu to get 18 new city buses

Transport: Eighteen more buses would add to Thimphu city bus fleet within the next six months, the information and communications minister DN Dhungyel said during the National Assembly’s question hour yesterday.

Jamkhar Bumdelling parliamentarian Duptho asked the government on what plans and programmes it had to address the increasing problems of traffic congestions in the capital.

Bhutan Postal Corporation’s proposal to procure 18 new buses for Thimphu was deliberated in the Cabinet and it was forwarded to the finance ministry.

The minister said that the World Bank has committed financial assistance of USD 5 million for the purchase of new public transport vehicles and building infrastructure.

“We have all made the rules and regulations on how the buses would operate, and remain ready to import the buses as and when the World Bank releases the money,” Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said.

He said the Road Safety and Transport Authority had recommended that if the government does not improve the public transport in the capital, traffic congestions would only worsen over the years from rapid increase in vehicle import.

The minister said there were problems with vehicular traffic.

The vehicle congestions in the Thimphu and Phuentsholing towns, the government since 2012 has consulted the international experts and research was done too. They said that to have an efficient road transport system, the public transport must be effective.

Of many alternatives of improving the public transport, increasing the number of buses was seen as the easy way out.

There are 35 buses in Thimphu at present, of which Bhutan Postal Corporation operates 30, and five by private operators.

Nubi Tangsibji Member of Parliament (MP) Nidup Zangpo said with the Parliament having endorsed thromdes in every dzongkhag, it is imperative that the government also plan public transport accordingly before problems crop up.

Pangbang MP Dorji Wangdi said in 1998 Netherlands supported import of five buses. Today after 17 years, there are only 30 buses. He said while population in the city increased by almost 150 percent the rate of increase in public transport was not up to the mark.

“There is a huge difference between the public transport and the increase in the population,” Dorji Wangdi said.

Foreign minister Damcho Dorji said residents of the city had alternatives besides the public transport.

“People use their own cars or taxis as per their convenience, so in some routes there are no people using the city buses service incurring loss to Bhutan Post,” he said.

Lunana Goenkhamey MP Pema Dakpa asked whether the buses would be bought from China or India and which of the two buses would be better.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo did not let the MoIC minister answer them and instead moved to the following question.

Tshering Palden

4 replies
  1. Taflay
    Taflay says:

    Why not city buses to other district and satelite towns?

    Every town whether small or huge deserves to have city buses when government policies have been framed to restrict import of vehilces. Why should the government impose unreasonable taxes on import of cars that it deprives its citizens from owning a car? What is the other alternative if not import it, when there is no domestic manufacturing? The policy of minimizing import of vehicles through heavy taxation is a blind deicision of the government for the reason that it did it without providing an alternative. Blind because the policy decision have not considered to look at who does it affect the most and its implications to its citizens. Introduction of an efficient public transport should have been an alternative the citizens would deserve if government’s intention was to reduce the import and trade deficits thereof.

    This taxation policy has escalated the already existing inequality becuase when others could own more than one, some car afford to even dream of one. But the need for movement does not differ much. Even if it differed, poorer could have used cars for leisure riding for they cannot afford the cost it involves. So, if they need it not for luxury, why should not the government allow these poors to own a car. If at all poorer owns it, they are indebted to the extent that they struggle to sustain their daily lives against huge monthly installment of loan. Should this be the policy outcomes in a nation where Gross National Happiness is ambraced as the overarching guiding priniciples of development?

    The need for movement of people are the same in capital city like Thimphu and the remote Tashiyangtse. As in Thimphu, people in remote districts need to travel for work, for shopping, to visit temples, to visit hospitals, offices etc. The only difference would be size of population and should the number of buses be. So, why isn’t there a policy to introduce city buses in remote districts when the same taxation policy has been imposed equally?

    The taxation policy does not really comply with the purpose. If the purpose is to minimize trade deficit, then do not we come up with alternative export policies? Because vehicle is one goods that Bhutan does not manufacture thus, we cannot avoid importing it. If the policies do not serve the citizens’ needs, where goes the GNH values in its country of birth. Lets us find out time and resources to look back to vehicles import taxation policy.

    MIGNIEN says:

    I agree with nakhap . We had the same problem in Paris some years ago ; To solve it , one radical measure has been taken : bus lane reserved only to buses . And nakhap is right : only expert on the place can decide the implement of this problem ; and it is urgent due to the increase number of private car Inside Thimphu , for instance . expert can privatised lanes for buses with zebra indications painted on the surface of the streets.
    And revisit all the direction of circulation in every main road of the city . A big job to give work to civil servants or to job seekers well paid by the town authorities . And building a network of cameras to help bus drivers to follow diversions in case of traffic jam , informations and orders given by a centralized check center who will manage all traffic problems over the town . Jobs to create futhermore !! Without forget the building of many traffic lights with high priority to buses !!.
    The policeman who is operating on the main crossroad of Nazam lane is gesticulating as a clown whithout any result : the only result is the laughing of occidental tourists who think Bhutan is behind the time.
    Thank you Nakhap to give voice in kuensel comment !! Let you be understood by Gup of Thimphu and his team. Peace on you !

  3. nakhap
    nakhap says:

    And one thing is very alarming here. What is the need of consulting the international experts when we have many experts who use the system every day. We have enough experts within the country to look at our own problems.

  4. nakhap
    nakhap says:

    It is a very good news we will have more public transports to support the ever increasing demand for cheaper and more efficient transport within the city. However, I would like to ask if the current infrastructure can support the increasing amount of vehicles? The traffic is chaos in Thimphu. Why do we not share the money to redevelop our urban infrastructure or is it not possible to do so? I do not find it logical to injest more buses when we are facing this massive problem of traffic in Thimphu even if there is a dire need. Or are our authorities blind to this problem?

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