Nima | Gelephu

Residents of Gelephu thromde lack ownership of the public infrastructure in the thromde a survey has found.

The social accountability survey conducted in six demkhongs of Gelephu thromde on July 28 showed widespread lack of voluntary action, and poor participation to take care of the public infrastructure.

The survey focused on the quality of basic infrastructures like a footpath, drainage, sewerage, streetlight, road, and the community ownership of the infrastructure within the thromde.

The survey findings were presented during a meeting between the thromde, members of the committee of concerned citizens (CCC), and the committee of community members (CCM) on July 30.

Chairperson with CCC and CCM, Kelzang said it would be difficult to monitor all infrastructure for thromde with limited human resource capacity.

“Community participation is important in this scenario,” he said. “But, there is no reporting system concerning the infrastructure from demkhong tshogpas and also no monitoring from the service provider.”

He added that there is a need for coordination and communication between the service provider and the service users.

“Gelephu has a different landscape comparing to other thromdes with the vast flatlands. It’s a central business hub. People’s ownership and participation in planning are important,” said Kelzang.

While acknowledging the need to engage people to take care of the infrastructure in the thromde, representatives from different demkhongs highlighted the need to have improved, safe, and user-friendly infrastructure.

Covering drainage properly, footpaths with railings, securing streetlight connections, enhancing connectivity of roads, timely maintenance were issues concerning the basic infrastructure across demkhongs.

In Sonamgatshel demkhong, the study found out that the blacktopping of roads on the outskirts of the town was not done. Without proper drainage coverage, the low-lying areas in the demkhong are at risk of flooding.

The works to continue construction of drainage, road and streetlight are stopped today at Samdrupling demkhong.

The members of the CCC and CCM took part in the survey as a part of social responsibility and community engagement workshop to assess people’s understanding of public infrastructure.

An official from the thromde said that the development of infrastructure is carried out as per the thromde’s structural plan to avoid damage to the amenities when the plots are being developed.

Gelephu Thrompon, Tikaram Kafley said people should begin to take ownership of the infrastructure.

“There is no concern among people today. Even for minor drain blocks, residents wait for the thromde,” he said. “ This can be done by themselves if they have a sense of ownership.”

The thromde plans to engage people while tendering and handing-taking of the infrastructure to enable community engagement. “We will let people see the quality of the work,” he said.

Awareness and responsibilities related to community ownership would be planned for any infrastructure development in the future, according to the thrompon.

Over 50 participants took part in the five-day workshop conducted by CCC and CCM with support from the Bhutan Transparency Initiative.

The workshop was carried with strict compliance to the Covid-19 protocols, according to the officials from CCC and CCM.