The Immigration and Census Office moved to its brand new building, constructed on a 90-decimal land, at Kawajangsa, Thimphu. The ample space in the building is expected to help in better service delivery and record keeping and storing. The inauguration ceremony was carried out on 29 July and graced by the Home Minister Dawa Gyeltshen.
The construction of the building started in mid 2014 at a cost of Nu 83 million (mn) and Nu 7 mn went towards the construction of the retaining wall.
Chief Civil Registration and Census Officer, Department of Civil Registration and Census (DCRC), Thinley Wangchuk, and also project manager of the construction, said that as the biggest service provider in Bhutan, the department has thousands of files containing sensitive citizenship information.
He said, “We have the records from 1980s, and we just cannot throw the information simply everywhere. All the files could not fit in the existing office in Dzong, which is why we hired a private apartment in Lungtenphug and later shifted it to Changzamtog.”
In addition, he said that it was risky to preserve the volumes of important documents in a flat for a long period of time. “It was not at all convenient to even keep the record in Dzong, as with people coming to avail services like, renewal of CID, applying of CID, every day. We have 14 online services all related to census and citizenship though,” he added.
Although all the services are available online for all the 20 dzongkhags, and in Dungkhag offices and Thromde offices, however, people still visit head office in Thimphu, he said. He said it was particularly hard for the elderly people to walk all the way to the Dzong and go through strict protocol and security checks.
During peak season, he said, although there was a token system, it is always a problem for elderly people as they reached late, whereby they waited last in a long queue to get their work done or they did not get any token for the day.
“We issue token as per the capacity of the work in a day, we don’t issue unlimited tokens,” he added. Knowing the difficulty and considering the issue of providing efficient service and record keeping, in 2010 the ministry decided to construct a new building for the office on the 90 decimal.
Meanwhile, the office has requested Thimphu Thromde for a more parking space as parking space is minimal in the new building area. He said, “Otherwise, the existing space can only accommodate vehicle of the staffs. Although there is a parking space in Department of Culture we cannot ask people to park their car in that space.”
“For now I assume that we got a positive response from Thromde regarding the parking space. Nevertheless we are going to follow up on this with the Thromde,” he added.
He said that the new office will have 8 service counters, and if needed additional counters will be set up on the first floor. “With this, it will be more convenient for the people in availing services and all the records will be kept in the base of the building,” he added.
He said, “We cannot provide the services immediately, however, we are going to move all the documents by first week of August, and hoping to commence the office from last week of August.”
Meanwhile, Director General of Department of Immigration said that the biggest challenge faced in the Dzong office is space constraint and no space for record keeping. He said, “Department of Immigration provides a range of services to many different clients, whereby in the current office there is no sitting area and this makes little inconvenient for the clients.” He said that the new office is much more organized with proper counter set up and waiting areas.
An official from the Home Ministry said that maintenance works will be done on current old census office and kept as a meeting space or used for existing department in the Dzong.
The current immigration office belongs to the Finance Ministry and they will hand over the office to the ministry after shifting to the new office.