Overhead bridges: An immediate need

The Thimphu ring road has become dangerous, in recent times, without proper infrastructure for pedestrians

With the increased number of vehicles plying on the Thimphu-Babesa expressway each year, the danger and risks to pedestrians, residents living along the road, commuters, and drivers, especially in the absence of proper infrastructures, is increasing too.

Accidents along the stretch of road, in recent times, have called for the need of overhead bridges at strategic locations. The expressway currently does not have a single overhead pedestrian bridge.

The Royal Bhutan Police’s (RBP) traffic department has already met the concerned stakeholders and has identified the sites for construction of the bridges, but the plan has remained on paper owing to lack of budget.

The Superintendant of Traffic Police (SP), Lieutenant Colonel Passang Dorji said it is vital to have overhead bridges for the safety and convenience of both drivers and pedestrians, not only along the expressway, but within the town areas as well.

A total of six to seven sites were identified, but the SP explained that it would be wise to construct the bridges only at strategic locations as per the degree of requirement. “We can have the bridges where it is needed, but within the limit of the budget,” he added.

“The structure for the overhead bridges will be simple and decent,” SP said.

Meanwhile, Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said they are waiting for the budget to be released by the government to carry out construction works of the bridges.

Many of the commuters that The Bhutanese talked to said there is a need for such infrastructure as it would avoid accidents to a larger extent.

Ugyen Tshering, a civil servant, said he was never confident while driving along the expressway ever since he nearly hit a pedestrian. “If the over head bridges are built, it will solve problems for both the drivers and people walking on the road,” he said.

Tashi, a private employee, who has to cross the expressway every morning to catch a taxi, said it was very dangerous to cross the road, especially during peak hours. She also shared her own experience of being nearly hit by a speeding car.

A 23-year-old woman died after being hit by a speeding vehicle while trying to cross the road near the Dhejung Honda Showroom located along the expressway in 2012. Another victim, 64-year- old man was hit by a car along the same stretch of the road early this year.

Data compiled with the Thimphu traffic office show a total of 107 road accidents in 2011 which dropped to 62 cases this year as of last month.

Lieutenant Colonel Passang Dorji said the reason for the drop in the accident cases in the last two years were due to continuous police patrol along the expressway. Traffic personnel were designated along the expressway to monitor the speed of vehicles, and to check vehicle documents.

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