The MP from Bomdeling-Jamkhar, Dupthob raised concern on the increasing traffic congestion in Thimphu city. He said traffic congestion has become a big challenge in Thimphu city and is worsening every year and though a comprehensive public transport system plan has been in place since some year back, it is not implemented yet.
MP Dupthob asked Lyonpo Loknath Sharma about the status of the implementation of the plan and the way forward in addressing the aggravating vehicle traffic congestion problem in Thimphu.
Clarifying on the concern, Lyonpo Loknath said, “We acknowledge that traffic congestion in Thimphu is becoming a growing concern. If we look at the vehicle growth trend, there were 13,584 vehicles in the country in 1997 at the time when Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) was established. In 20 years time from then, the number of vehicles increased by seven folds. As of 30th April 2019, 102,916 vehicles have been registered with RSTA and approximately 30 per cent of the vehicles ply in Thimphu.”
He said, “Road and infrastructure development is the mandate of thromde and Ministry of Works and Human settlement (MOWHS), road safety education is the mandate of RSTA and enforcement is the mandate of RSTA and Traffic police.”
Lyonpo said, “Traffic congestion in Thimphu town is managed through multilateral sectoral approach mainly involving Thromde, RSTA, Traffic Police and Bhutan Postal Corporation. While long term measures require adequate planning, the short term issues are resolved through coordination meeting involving stakeholders.”
He said, ‘For improving the traffic congestion, Road safety and Traffic Coordination Committee meeting chaired by the Director General of RSTA is held between the stakeholders at least quarterly to discuss and decide on important traffic congestion issues. Through this road improvement, signage, traffic diversion and monitoring are discussed. This is mainly to resolve issues related to infrastructure development and law enforcement.”
Regarding public transport, he said, “Bhutan Post is currently providing city bus service to the majority of travelers in Thimphu with 45 numbers of buses. In addition to this, there is currently 4 private city bus operators with 5 buses instituted. So a total of 50 buses are catering to the public transportation demand within Thimphu.”
He said the government has planned to procure 68 new buses during FY 2019-2020 which will be added to the existing fleet of buses operated by Bhutan Post to meet the additional demand. As of now, the government is planning to add 46 new buses to the existing fleet of buses in Thimphu and rest will be deployed to other main towns.
There will be a trunk route introduced which will start from Babesa to Dechencholing. All existing routes will be subsidiary routes which will touch all important locations inside the core city area and feed to the trunk route and from the trunk route to any other destination in Thimphu. This will contribute to the uptime of the buses and will require shorter time to complete each route thereby increasing the frequency on the particular route, said Lyonpo.
This new route system will enable the buses to cross at junctions whereby the commuters can interchange to different buses for different routes. This will also ease the use of the terminal in the town reducing traffic congestion.
“Improving traffic congestion and road safety is a shared responsibility of all the parties involved that is government agencies and the citizens. It is now high time that people should start using public transport services rather than traveling by their individual cars which is the main cause of traffic jam in urban areas during peak hours. The other option is car pooling,” Lyonpo added.