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