The move is expected to reduce public fund wastage 

Infrastructure: In a move to improve coordination in providing public services, Thimphu thromde signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the country’s telecommunication service providers and the two cable operators in Thimphu on January 12.

The thromde’s executive secretary, Passang Dorji, said that the agreement aims to reduce public funds by avoiding unnecessary expenditures and wastage of resources, provide timely and quality services to urban dwellers and avoid criticism from the general public.

With the signing of the agreement, the stakeholders are expected to share their master plans or annual work plans with the thromde.

Meanwhile, the thromde will also share its Local Area Plan, Thimphu Structural Plan of service plots and the road network, and its annual work plan with the stakeholders. The thromde will also share information concerning the stakeholders through Open Street Mapping.

The terms in the agreement require that the stakeholders obtain prior approval from the thromde for any kind of work. The thromde, in turn will study, approve and identify areas for the stakeholders’ work such as identifying and allocating points to erect poles, provide Right Of Ways (ROW) for underground cable lines, and site plans for demarcation.

Besides sharing with the thromde their cable network ducts, tower locations and positioning and emission data, among others, stakeholders are also expected to share the leased land and infrastructure for tower and other services wherever possible with the other stakeholders that includes Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC).

However, BPC could not make it to the signing of the MoU at the Thimphu thromde’s conference hall on January 12.

A thromde official said that BPC is one of the important stakeholders and the thromde had been working with the company since last year. The thromde and the company officials had numerous meetings and the thromde wrote to the managing director of the company in November last year, inviting him to the MoU signing.

An official with the BPC said that the document are not legally binding and the company requested the thromde for some time since the document has to be reviewed by the company’s legal officer, as there are some corrections to be made.

Meanwhile, the thromde official claimed that the documents were drafted jointly with the stakeholders.

Another official with the BPC said that the company had the draft of the MoU and it needed some changes.

“There are many corrections to be done and also we are required to get legal views from our legal officer on the MoU, because of which we couldn’t make to the signing,” the official said. “It is not that we are not cooperating with Thimphu thromde.”

The official added that before signing the MoU, it is important to make sure that all the clauses and terms go in line with the company’s rules and regulations. “We also have to check for any legal impact so it took some time to get into the details of all the clauses in the MoU.”

“We discussed with the thromde yesterday and we will be signing the MoU next week,” the official said. “The thrompon said that we decide the date and time and he will come over to sign.”

The official said that the company has been working with the thromde to build cable ducts on a cost sharing basis since last year. “The signing of the MoU is just a formality.”

The company will contribute about Nu 30M (million) to build a six kilometre long cable duct from the Lungtenzampa bridge to Babesa zero point. The construction of a cable duct from the Changzamtok diesel powerhouse to Lungtenzampa was completed last year. The company provided Nu 6.2M for the work.

An engineer with the thromde, Sonam Namgay, said that the idea to build cable ducts along the expressway emerged when they were working on the construction of a two metre-wide pedestrian footpath along the expressway. The Indian government funded the work under Small Development Project (SDP).

“There were cables everywhere when we dug the ground,” Sonam Namgay said.

The thromde officials then met with the stakeholders that include the Department of Information Technology and Telecom to discuss the issue, after which BPC officials requested the thromde to build a common cable duct on a cost sharing basis.

Sonam Namgay said that once the construction of the cable duct is done, it would be covered and made into a pedestrian walkway. Of the total Nu 63.6M allocated for the work, Nu 31.4M is for the construction of the duct alone.

Those stakeholders who are not in the list of cost sharing, will be allowed to use the cable duct to lay cables on lease and the money will be used for the maintenance of the duct.

“Before developers that include the stakeholders dig up the ground and lay cable lines wherever convenient for them,” Sonam Namgay said.

Now, the developers have to get approval from the thromde to lay cables and they will be allowed to use the common cable duct to lay their cables. “There won’t be digging of the ground everywhere to lay cables, Sonam Namgay said. “It is in the interest of the public service.”

There are plans to construct many footpaths in the city and wherever possible, a common cable duct will be constructed underneath the footpath to avoid coming across cables when the ground is excavated.

Sonam Namgay said that the thromde has plans to convert overhead cable lines to underground lines.

“We will put the cross cables in Hume pipes underground and it doesn’t require erecting of poles which we can see everywhere in the city currently,” he said. “The overhead cables don’t look nice.”

One of the terms in the MoU is that the stakeholders shall convert all the overhead lines to underground lines and while doing so, service ducts shall be built below the footpath Right of Ways (ROW).

Dechen Tshomo