Nima | Gelephu

Gelephu thromde has notified the community to use uniform signboards from May 2020, and that businesses must change their signboard design by the end of December 2021.

Signboards in the thromde must have a blue background with white letters. The Dzongkha fonts should not be smaller than the English fonts.

However, only a few shops and newly opened hotels and restaurants have new signboards.

Businesspersons said that the requirement was developed without consulting them, and that it was not in line with business practices.

A businessman, Dal Bdr Pradhan, said that unique designs make individual businesses more attractive and unique.

“We could have a minimum requirement such as the need to include Dzongkha letters on signboards. With the change, we could have 3D designs and LED lighting,” he said.

He added that it would be expensive to change the signboards during the pandemic.

“Materials are not readily available. It would also destroy creative and unique designs that were in place,” he said.

The thromde’s Dzongkha Development Committee developed the uniform signboard design requirements. The compliance monitoring and inspection started from the first week of December, according to the thromde’s notification.

Shopkeepers said that the rule was untimely, as most of the businesses are struggling because of the pandemic.

Using the new signboards to promote Dzongkha was a misplaced regulation, some said.

A hotel owner, Ugyen Rabten, said there were no uniform signboards implemented in other thromdes.

“It’d be difficult for a small business community like that of Gelephu. There is only one printer in the town today. The business community is going through a tough phase,” he said.

He added that a shop needs an advertisement space. “Only one-third of the space is allowed for advertisement on new signboard design. No separate billboards are allowed. But if the thromde does not allow it, we will have to abide by it,” said the hotel owner.

The business representative in the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force, Dawa Penjore, said implementing the rule would kill creativity, branding, and marketing.

Gelephu Thrompon Tshering Norbu said that the business communities would be given time and some changes would be made to the guidelines.

“We need to have a modern touch in the design. It would be obsolete to use conventional signage today. We are also studying the standards in other thromdes. The aesthetic aspect must be considered,” he said.

However, he added that the time has come for the thromde to implement uniform signboards.

“We never know when the pandemic will end. It’s important to have a standard signboard design implemented. It won’t cost much,” the thrompon said.