Chhimi Dema

The city footpaths in Thimphu are normally choked with vendors selling all manner of goods. There are food sellers and lottery dealers. And there are sellers of religious items. Occasionally, the streets are made smaller and more unpretty with drifters and beggars.

This is going to change. The Thimphu Thromde has taken a drastic step. Officials from the thromde, police, and De-Suung have dismantled the temporary structures and cleared the footpaths near the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) on September 4.

A shopkeeper at the CFM area said that thromde made several attempts to clear the footpaths and the temporary structures. “After the officials leave, the shopkeepers display their goods on the footpaths again.”

A taxi driver from Thimphu said that it was much safer now for pedestrians with the footpaths cleared. “There was no space for us to walk with goods laid on the footpath.”

A 37-year-old woman who had come to shop said that with the footpath cleared people would now be able to maintain physical distance.

“It is also easier and comfortable for us to shop,” she said.

Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that health protocols were not followed in the area. “Lines were not drawn for physical distancing. Although hand washing stations and Druk Trace codes were there nobody was using them.”

Shopkeepers can display their goods only till kachhen (pillars) of the shops but not beyond, Kinlay Dorjee said.

A shopkeeper said: “Thromde should monitor the area every day. If that does not happen, the shopkeepers could display their goods outside again.”

Wangmo, 33, a shopkeeper, said that the thromde’s initiative was good. “Welfare of the whole community should be considered.”

Kinlay Dorjee said that henceforth the shopkeepers would be monitored from the CCTV cameras installed by the police.

“If people are building temporary structures or displaying their goods on the footpaths, police would take immediate action,” he said.