The ongoing Pedestrian Day, a policy decision of the previous government which invited much carp and fuss from various sections of the public has finally been lifted. The decision came after the first sitting of the Cabinet yesterday.
“The Cabinet, however, applauded the initiative taken by the former government and appreciated the objectives and rationale behind introducing the Pedestrian Day. Therefore, the Cabinet decided that Pedestrian Day shall continue to be observed on June 5 every year coinciding with the World Environment Day,” a news release from the Cabinet stated.
The Cabinet arrived on the decision after a discussion that Pedestrian Day gave problems to general public, especially in times of emergency and affected the business community drastically.
The initiative was first implemented on June 5, 2012 to be observed every Tuesday, and majority of the public from day one criticized the decision while most members of the business community even went to the extent of holding a silent protest if the issue was not looked into.
Calling it an ‘ad-hoc policy’ imposed by the government, the private sector vented it has reached its precipice with the Pedestrian Day and sought support and cooperation from the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) to address the issue.
A study by the business community showed losses in millions annually in various sectors owing to the Pedestrian Day.
In July last year, during a BBS debate called the ‘People’s Voice’ on the question, ‘if the Pedestrian Day initiative was well received or not, 2,847 voted No and 1,315 voted Yes. In terms of percentage, it was 68% No and a 32% Yes. The highly charged and also at times emotional nature of the debate showed the depth of feelings on the subject.
Hence, as recommended by the private sector, during its 146th Cabinet meeting, the previous government decided to observe the Pedestrian Day on the first Sunday of every month with effect from December 2, 2012.
At the Cabinet meeting yesterday, relevant ministries were further instructed to come up with advocacy programs to promote and create awareness on living healthy lifestyles and preserving the environment. The Cabinet also invited suggestions and proposals from the public, if any, and bring it to the notice of the Cabinet Secretariat.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government had earlier pledged to do away with the Pedestrian Day during its campaign across the country.