Where government’s focus should be

The automobile workshop area in Olakha has been growing into a kind of community over the years. It is not the safest of places in Thimphu today, especially for children. The community has become home to gang fighters, looters and dangerous night-time hooligans. The community is increasingly becoming sleazy with unhealthy social elements. As the number of residents keeps growing, it is in urgent need of government intervention.

Building a community is one thing. Nurturing it is a different thing entirely.

But there is good news. The government is planning to develop the area with essential facilities that the community desperately needs. The Prime Minister met with more than 60 landowners and workshop proprietors on Tuesday and told them of the government’s plan to develop the area. The Ministry of Works and Human Settlement has planned development projects worth Nu 12 million to develop the workshop area.

The workshops as yet do not even have sensible drainage system. Effluents from the workshops that run to Olarongchhu are destructive to the many aquatic lives and soil conditions downstream. Waste fly around and the dirt and dust make the area a difficult place to visit. When there is rain, roads become mud pools, making it difficult for vehicles to navigate the intricate twists and turns. And with speedy growth of population, congestion problem has only worsened over the years.

Here is what could be done: The workshop area needs a breather. Roads are too narrow for the increasing number of vehicles that come to the workshops daily. Single entry and exit point leads to further congestion, increasing the chances of accidents. As the city grows, pressure on automobile workshops is growing at an alarming rate.

At the core of the government’s development plan should be to make workshop area not just liveable but also a home to top class service centres. That will, however, require careful planning. Whatever we build, we build not just for the current needs. We must allow for future growth and challenges.

Although the Prime Minister suggested to the workshop owners, it would make no sense for the workshop owners to grant women employees a six-moth maternity leave. But opening an early childhood care development centre would help. What is urgently needed is physical development. That should be government’s main focus.

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