Thimphu thromde would no longer allow shopkeepers and vendors stacking and selling their goods on the newly built footpaths in the city, thromde officials said.

Thimphu thromde on January 26 issued a notification reminding shopkeepers and vendors not to misuse the walkways and states that fines would be imposed for non-compliance.

Executive secretary with the thromde, Pasang Dorji, said people are not cooperating despite issuing repeated notifications and imposing penalties. “Shopkeepers and hawkers in the name of loading and unloading use the footpath to store and sell their goods.”

Under the Waste Prevention and Management Regulation 2012, section 150.6, sale of goods or services on the streets and pedestrian walkways without approval and section 150.12, placing or storing of goods, including commercial and construction materials, on the streets, roads, and pedestrian pathways without permission of the relevant authority are considered offences.

The regulation states that non-compliance to section 150.6 would be liable for a fine of Nu 1,000 an instance and non-compliance to section 150.12 would be liable for a fine of Nu 2,000 an instance.

Thromde’s chief environment officer, Yeshi Wangdi, said that although thromde has only imposed fines until now, administrative actions such as disconnection of water supply and electricity would be taken for repeated non-compliance.

Thromde penalises between 10 to 20 individuals a week.

Yeshi Wangdi said that if people fail to comply even after taking an administrative action, the case would be forwarded to the court.

Pasang Dorji said that although the rule is applicable for every footpath, the worse case of non-compliance is at the Centenary Farmer’s Market (CFM) area. “They have to take social responsibility. This is our town. This is our area.”

He said that even with the lack of manpower, thromde has put in place a shift system to monitor the situation in CFM. “We send our people to inspect and notify the shopkeepers and vendors but they are often threatened and scolded.”

Pasang Dorji said that even selling goods directly from vehicles is prohibited and is liable for a fine of Nu 1,000. “There is no reason to sell from the vehicles in the parking. There is enough space in CFM area,” he said. “The CFM can occupy about 700 shopkeepers of which about 20 to 30 percent is always empty.”

Users of the CFM counters have to pay Nu 420 from Wednesday to Sunday and Nu 75 on Mondays.

A shopkeeper at CFM area, Sonam, said that although the thromde is working for the good of the public, her shop is too small to display all the items available. “If we can display more items, people buy more and then only we are able to sustain ourselves.”

Tashi Rinchen from Trashigang said that sellers from far places such as Tsirang, Sarpang and eastern regions stay for a month or two but are unable to sell much if they utilise the counters in CFM.

He said he was able to sell a few packets a day when he used the counter inside CFM, and that is it tiring to walk about selling the products. “If we sell inside the CFM, we are unable to sell all our products within the time we stay here.”

He said that they come to Thimphu to sell their products only once a year. “I stayed in the counter for five days last year, and could earn only about Nu 350 to Nu 700.”

Pasang Dorji said that shopkeepers should bring goods according to the space available in their shops.

If the footpaths are kept clean and free he said, there would not be any inconveniences caused. “As people walk along freely, they can do more shopping. Best shopping is done in a good environment,” said Passang Dorji. “If there is no path to walk on, people use the road. Then there are high chances of getting hit by vehicles as well.”

Thimphu thromde has also requested assistance from relevant stakeholders such as Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, traffic police and the Road Safety and Transport Authority to monitor and inspect the areas.

Karma Cheki