Of late the express way which connects urban Thimphu to its outskirts, has proved to be a gross misnomer of itself, and for the commuters cruising along its surface the drive is everything but a pleasant driving experience.
The root of all tainted records for the 6.2 km stretch of asphalt lies in the line of green fences which runs right from its middle as a divider for the left and right lanes. The fences are torn or bent-out-of-shape in many odd places along the whole stretch.
These flaps and coils of the metal fences has suddenly proved dangerous and highly risky for the speeding commuters who have to negotiate road-space to stay within their lanes or to overtake other vehicles.
With no proper pathway identified for pedestrians to cross the road, people even in the past had to zip-past speedily approaching vehicles which drive at speeds no lesser than 50 kms per hour.
With the introduction of this new hazard-item, the pedestrian which includes small children, school students and senior citizens will now have to risk dual risk-factors of getting run-down by cars or sustain injuries from the metal fences.
The Executive Engineer of Thimphu Thromde Sangay Wangdi said that they were maintained the fences whenever needed but people damaged it every now and then.
He said that the maintenance is still underway and they are waiting for the materials as supply order for the equipments is done.
“I nearly got into an accident, twice since the fences were not fixed tightly and it was bent toward the highway,” said a contractor, Neten Wangdi.
Similarly a corporate employee Singye had to repair his car since the sharp edge of the fence banged his side mirror.
“It’s more risky during the office hours as it is not visible for a driver to see the curved fences,” said Neten Wangdi.
Sonam Rinchen a civil servant suggested not having fences since most of the accidents on the expressway damaged the fences.
“It’s quite risky to overtake since there is a fear that bent fence may hit a car,” he said.
While an official from Bhutan National Legal Institute said that it would be better if it could replace with concrete wall just like the one near swimming pool area.
While the Executive engineer from Thimphu Thromde said for one block it cost around Nu 8000 and for the entire express highway it might escalate to around 20 mn.
“We thought of replacing the fence with steel, still it was expensive so we thought of continuing with the same fence,” he said.
“Haywire fences seem to be hideous and disorganized,” said a pedestrian.
The Executive engineer added that they are planting saplings in between the fence; and will continue maintaining the fence.
However the severe damage near Flyover Bridge would be maintained by the concerned contractor who had to dig the hole to maintain the water pipe.
Residents nearby said that the street lights in the area were not working though it is mandatory to have street lights since cars in the express highway should drive with low beam light.
There were around 50 accidents in 2010 and 107 last year caused due to poor vision in the area.
The Executive engineer said electricians were sent to repair all the street lights. There might be few where the bulb might get fused.
Thimphu thromde was authorized to maintain more than 200 km roads within the capital on 1 July, 2011 by Department of Roads, under the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS).
One of the engineers from MoWHS said that the road divider fence, technically called as median is used for safety measures. It is meant to avoid clashes between the cars.