Her husband, a municipal worker, died at the work site due to a collapsed wall on April 1

Accident: On April 1 Man Maya Rai, 74, lost her husband when a wall collapsed on him as he was cleaning a drain by the roadside.

She is survived by two sons: one with impaired hearing and the other speech impaired.  After her husband Amrit Bdr Rai died, the family of 10 members has been surviving on the Nu 5,000 salary that her hearing impaired son earns by working with the thromde.

More than a month and a half after the incident, the family is yet to receive any compensation for the worker’s death. “We went to the thromde office to enquire, but they said they’re working on it,” she said.

Three of her grandchildren attend school and the eldest is in class nine. “I’m really worried about the family’s livelihood and the school-going grandchildren,” she said.

She said, with her son’s salary, it was not possible to support her family.  The man and his son together used to earn Nu 10,000 a month. “Before, we also used to get rice, lentil, and oil as municipal workers, but now my son’s salary is all we have,” she said.

The family has been working in Thimphu for the last 28 years. “What we could save so far was Nu 25,000,” she said.

The family has not been able to withdraw the money Amrit Bdr Rai had deposited in a bank in Thimphu for the past  one and a half months. “It’s a big hassle even to withdraw the money,” her grandson-in-law Palman Tamang said, adding that the hassle came due to a lack of nominee in the bank account.

The family is landless. “If we had land in the village, we wouldn’t stay in Thimphu,” she said.

She said that officials had promised her land when she joined the then public works department (PWD) some 30 years ago. “We were told by local leaders that we’d be given land after serving 10 years in PWD,” she said. “But I’m not asking for land or house. We’d be happy to receive the compensation as per the government rule.”

She said she was thankful for the contribution the family received from the thromde staff.  But she said the family prayed to be compensated for the loss of their bread earner, who gave half of his life in the service of the municipality.

The family has also received life insurance of Nu 15,000.

Thromde’s executive secretary Minjur Dorji said that compensation for the family was delayed due to the absence of the owner of the collapsed wall, who was in Nepal as a member of the Bhutanese relief team there. “We were waiting for him to arrive from Nepal,” he said.

The executive secretary said that a notice have been served to the wall’s owner on the issue.

Labour secretary Pema Wangda said that, if the family felt that the compensation had been too late or denied by the employer, the case should be reported to the labour ministry. “But so far we haven’t received any complaint,” he said.

According to the labour and employment Act 2007, an employer shall compensate his or her employee against a death due to work accident or occupational diseases.  This clause applies to all types of employment.

An employer, who contravenes this clause, will be guilty of an offence, a felony of the fourth degree.

The man was brought dead to the emergency department.  Investigation has not yet established whether the wall was built with the approval from the thromde, and whether it is on private land.  The investigation team also could not find out whether the house owner has approval from the thromde to construct the parking space above the wall that came crumbling down and killed the 73-year-old.

MB Subba