This they say will be a last-resort if the government does not listen
Some members of the Business Community in Thimphu and other Dzongkhags representing Industries, Hotels, Shops and other business outlets have decided to close shops for a day as a silent and peaceful protest against the Pedestrian Day.
These businessmen claim that the Pedestrian day has greatly affected their businesses both in Thimphu and also across the country.
Some of the businessmen considering this move talked to The Bhutanese but on the condition of anonymity fearing repercussion.
“We have already met other business people informally and have discussed the idea and felt that the first step was to let the media know of what could take place if the government does not cooperate,” said a key organizer.
The group of businessmen said that, before taking such a step they would exhaust all options.
“We will discuss with more business people and present the matter to the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) so that the government is aware of our problems. If the BCCI is not able to convince the government then we will encourage as many shops, hotels, restaurants, industries across the country to down their shutters for a day on Tuesday,” said the businessman.
Apart from secret meetings among business people, Facebook has already got wind of the possible protest with a thread on the Social Democracy page bringing up the topic. While many opposed the possible protest there were also supporters like ‘Happy Dorji or Sonam Tshering’ who felt that business people had the right to protest.
“First we want to inform the Government on the injustice of Pedestrian Day but if it doesn’t work, we are going to have a silent protest by keeping our businesses closed for a day,” said a prominent industrialist associated with the group.
“There is no legality in this enforcement as it was an executive order by the Prime Minister unlike a proper law. Such a decision has to go through proper channels; at least people should be consulted before implementing it,” said a private consultant who wanted anonymity.
None of the business people with the group wanted their identity revealed as of now because some of their colleagues’ businesses had to suffer after negatively commenting on government policies.
“I have delayed my work-permit for almost nine months, as every procedure has to go through various Government agencies,” said a contractor who owns a building in town.
An owner of a major three star hotel in Thimphu said, “Stopping so many Tuesdays in a year will have a huge negative implication on work-productivity, and it will eventually hamper the productivity of the country’s economy”.
Opposition MP Damcho Dorji said, this is what happens when the Government interferes in the daily lives of the people.
He said it will set a precedence whereby people will resort to different forms of protest over various reasons.
“I empathize with such people who are affected,” Damcho Dorji said.
“While we acknowledge that objective of the Pedestrian Day is good, we should also weigh it with the inconvenience and hardships people face every week. We could rather make it into a yearly occasion and celebrate it genuinely.”
As of now, there are also those who do not support the potential protest and interestingly some of these ‘non-supporters’ themselves do not support the Pedestrian Day.
Sherub Dorji of NRDCL said, “There is nothing much people can do when such laws are passed by the government without proper planning and consultation, except to follow it silently as though everything is fine.
A Bhutan Power Corporation employee, Tshering Dorji said, “Pedestrian Day is a good start to make people aware of the affects of transportation on the environment as well as the need to make use of public transports.
“The manner in which it was done wasn’t appreciated, but even then there is no need to come up with any protest,” he said.