16 May 2021

Open Letter to New Thimphu Thrompon

Thimphu Thrompon 

Thromde Office

Subject: What Happened to Chubachu Footpath?


Dear Dasho Ugyen Dorji,

Congratulations on your electoral success. Your victory was people's yearning for change. Former Thrompon was a charismatic leader who has won hearts and earned respect from every quarter of this town, yet people chose you. Your victory comes with a lot of responsibilities. People's expectations from you will be overwhelming,  unforgiving and, at times, unreasonable, yet you must strive to remain faithful to your duty.

At least I have a firm belief that you will be seen as an insider, having been a Thromde staff so far, to enjoy the goodwill and cooperation of your former colleagues, unlike former thrompon. Dasho Kinley used to share how the senior staff members often ganged up against his decisions and didn't let him go forth with most of his out-of-the-box ideas. I know this cannot happen against you because you know the masterminds in the system. 

Well, Dasho, a hundred things are begging for your attention in Thimphu today. Everything seems more important than the other, and I wish you the composure and wisdom to see things with clarity and know which one deserves to be on the priority list. 

A footpath that became a drain

I write this today to draw your attention to a small footpath that seems to have fallen in the shadow. It starts from Chubachu traffic, runs along the stream to the bridge above Land Commission (Passing along the Telecom wall). It was a busy footpath used by hundreds of people who don't have or use cars, including students. Among the hundreds of people using that path was my former teacher, Pema Chhogyel, who is visually impaired since childhood. I saw him walking along that path independently using his white cane to get to his office in the Ministry of Education.

Sir Pema Chhogyel and his son on their way home from the office

Unfortunately, one day toward the end of 2019, we saw people and machine urgently digging up the entire stretch of the footpath. People could no longer use it. They had to find alternate routes, which were much longer detours requiring cars. I understand that for the city to develop, we need to tolerate brief inconveniences every now and then, and for bigger development, we have to make bigger sacrifices. 

But what I can't understand is that the urgency with which they had dug the footpath was not followed up with any other urgent activity. It's been two years, and the footpath is still unusable. The initial excitement was only to destroy the fairly good footpath and make it unusable. 

I am a witness to this failure, along with hundreds of officials working with the Land Commission, Health Ministry, Royal Audit Authority, Anti Corruption, RSPN, WWF, UN, Ministry of Education and Bhutan Telecom. 

Alongside Ministry of Health toward NLC

In February last year, I read sir Pema Chogyal making an online plea to Thrompon and urban planners asking them when the path will be made useable. It's his daily route to and fro office, and ever since it was destroyed he had to be dropped to the office by his wife and picked from office by his school-going son. When he wrote that you were in the office as an urban planner but now you are the mayor. Sir Pema must have thought that the ordeal would only last a few months but we are into May 2021 and nothing has been done. 

Dasho, since the unfortunate destruction of the footpath, we saw people struggling to manoeuvre through the dug up path and making do with the pathetic condition of the road until a group of workers came and started some concrete works and put short spikes of metal rods along the side as if to prevent people from using this already scary path. No alternate route was paved, nor the old one was made safe for use.

Footpath along the Telecom Wall (With metal spikes)

Dasho, I can see no justifiable reasons for such a long delay. If there was no budget, there was no need to rush and dig the path in the first place. If there is a budget and the work was given out then shouldn't there be a deadline? 

Dasho, I know that the entire Thimphu is dug up, and some places are dug more than necessary because of our incompetence yet we look forward with the hope that when the dust settles down we are going to have a better city. But when it comes to the footpath that suffered the unfortunate digging, and series of negligence from 2019 to 2021, I urge you to find out what really happened and do whatever it takes to give back the footpath to the hundreds of people who rely on that, including sir Pema Chhogyel. Let him get back the joy of juggling between his home and office independently. 

Thank you


(I don't use the footpath yet I care.)

1 comment:

  1. Very pertinent issue indeed. I hope the concerned authorities would look into the matter and make Thimphu a safe and inclusive city for all!

    ReplyDelete

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