Discos in Thimphu will be allowed to stay open till 5 am
A committee comprising of members from all relevant stakeholders decided that discotheques under Thimphu Thromde will be allowed to operate until 5 AM. They came to a conclusion after studies and discussions for the past three years.
The initiative is only for Fridays and Saturdays though. For Wednesday, the party timing will be as usual until 12. This initiative does not apply for Drayangs and Karaokes as they remain open six days a week.
The initiative was first implemented in New Years Eve, Losar and Valentine’s day as a pilot project and after positive results, the committee then decided to take it up as a permanent measure and implement officially.
Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that they have been studying the issue for the past three years, monitoring it mostly on Fridays and Saturdays to check if the discotheques are being closed on time. In the past, the time was set at 1 AM with the hope that people would go home directly.
He said, though they close on time, people have the habit of staying inside drinking. They loiter around rather than going home directly, he said, adding that they usually go around to 24/7 shops or to have thukpa.
“They go bar hopping and then they go around for a drive. So these things leads to more crime”, he added.
They then started studying if closing the party exact at 1 AM would help people head home directly or if it can reduce the crime rate and youth-related issues.
After a lot of research, they realized that, closing early doesn’t help in any way. “We felt that keeping discotheque open until 5 AM would help because people would stay in one place and they would directly go home once they are exhausted. This can help in bringing down accident cases as the majority of the minor cases takes place during such days”, he added.
It can also help in controlling public nuisance and the number of illegal bars which are being operated 24/7 could be brought under control. With numerous discussion with the entertainment licensing committee, Thromde Tshogdue and stakeholders (including the club owners) they came to a conclusion to operate until 5 AM.
He said, before implementing it as a permanent measure, in consultation with club owners, they decided to take it as a pilot project.
During the pilot project, no public nuisance was reported and no crime and accident cases were reported also. He said that in the past most of the electric poles were damaged by the party goers due to reckless driving.
“Club owners were supportive with the initiative and likewise, people were also supportive. With their support we could implement it”, he added.
Some owners had expressed their concern stating that there could be few associated challenges with the initiative.
However, the Thrompon said, “I told them, let the initiative be uniform. They can always have an alternative, where the owners can make a staff shift system or they can open the party around 11 PM as people come to the party only during that period.”
Meanwhile, an official from RBP said that, it is too early to comment on impact of keeping the discotheque till 5 AM. However, he said that the initiative could be of advantage and they have a positive hope in bringing down the crime.
The RBP official said, “When people are in the mood to enjoy, we tend to ask them to leave and they show their frustration. People then land up committing crime. They also drive in full speed and get into an accidents. They also loiter around creating nuisance.”
Therefore, he said that, if people are made to enjoy until they are exhausted there won’t be any way to create crimes as they would go home directly. No crime has been reported after the implementation of the initiative officially and including during New Year, Losar and Valentine’s day, he said.
In addition, he also said that, they have started deploying their men to more crime prone areas.
The manager of Viva City club said that this is a good way to make an income and it is definitely beneficial for the owners. However, having to close club at 5 AM, the staff can only go home by 6 AM.
He said that most of the staff are part-time worker and it will be inconvenient for them as they have to go for work during day time as well. He said, “We have to see the staff’s welfare as well. So we will have to work on it. We did not decide on how to go about but for sure we will find an alternative.”
Though the time is till 5 AM people stay up to 3 AM and they get dispersed, adding that, for now they close the party by 3 AM. He said that they are not able to comment on the additional income earned since it has been only 2 weeks.
“In terms of crime, it is obvious that youths or the adults would be the one to stay last. So there is every chance that minor crime incidences might take place”, he added.
Likewise, Phub Zam, owner of Zomsa club said that they are happy with the initiative because they need not fight or argue with police personnel anymore and they need not have to take any associated risk of losing their customers by chasing them out, unlike in the past.
She said, “People stay up to 3 AM and they then leave themselves without us having to ask them to leave. They feel exhausted by the time they leave and there is no way they will create nuisance around. I have not experienced any mischief by the people recently”.
She said they might have to revise their staffs’ pay as they have to work for an extra hour.
In addition, she said that some Drayang and Karaoke’s are being operated till 5 AM which might indirectly harm their business. Therefore, it is a must that relevant stakeholder should monitor, she said.
Yeshi, a tenant residing in Norzin Lam said that, she cannot say if it is the impact of discotheque being operated until 5 AM but an issue of public nuisance has gone down. Moreover, they could see very few loitering around after the party, she said.
Likewise, Sonam Dorji, a civil servant residing near 24/7 shop said that they do not see much people sitting near 24/7 eating and chatting. “Some are still there but the number has gone down. If not for this initiative, the issue of people loitering around and creating mess would get out of control”, he added.
An official from Department of Regional Trade and Industry said that this initiative will help them in monitoring and it would definitely bring positive impact to all.
He said, “This will not only help in curving down the crime but it is also an opportunity for the club owners to boost up their businesses. Many people do not know about the initiative for now as it is new. Once they know about it, people will continue coming even at 2 AM.”