Delivering the essentials

There has been some inefficiency and confusion around the delivery of essential items and vegetables in Thimphu since the start of the lockdown.

 The lockdown, though sudden, should not have come as a surprise as the government machinery had months to plan and prepare for it.

When you plan to lock in a city of around 150,000 people who have no food self-sufficiency, the basic idea is that food delivery should have been prepared better.

It is surprising that vegetable delivery only seems to be making a move on day three and that also in a haphazard manner with limited reach and where the customers literally have no choice.

This way of distributing vegetables is also not very advisable given how it can lead to crowding and is also undignified.

Thimphu is not a refugee camp with the government handing out food aid. There are surely better ways.

While Bhutan has done well on all fronts on the fight against COVID-19, the food delivery issue exposes certain weaknesses in the decision making first at the cabinet level and then its implementation at the ground level by the bureaucracy.

The only positive here are the hardworking DeSuups and volunteers without which nothing would even be moving.

The Prime Minister’s idea of mixing all vegetables into one bag and giving no choice to the consumer shows ad hoc decision making.

The inability of the galaxy of senior officials to even ensure the smooth flow of essentials shows the silo mentality of the bureaucracy and its implementation and coordination weakness.

Something, His Majesty had pointed out and warned against a few years ago.

The doing away of calling the stock centers and having just a helpline number where vegetables cannot be ordered made the problem worse as it centralized things.

The hope going forward is that the government has learnt its lockdown lesson well and will ensure better service delivery as people’s three square meals now depend on it.

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.
Peter Drucker

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