There was very little that could trump the ‘Pedestrian’s day’ initiated in an all altruistic fashion with citizens ‘walking’ to their daily destinations of jobs, schools and businesses.
The nation’s premier Lyonchen Jigmi Y. Thinley himself was the torchbearer to the whole ‘save the environment’ initiative. The Prime Minister walked all the way from Lungtenzampa Parking lot to his office (picture on page 12).
The Opposition MP Damcho Dorji who attempted to save the environment and save himself the walk drove out to work in his nephew’s Taxi.
Unfortunately for him the taxi was odd-numbered, so he could drive his taxi only in the periphery of the vehicle-free zone.
The Finance Minister Wangdi Norbu was seen walking in front of the Taj Tashi and the Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay was spotted with his bicycle below Bhutan National Bank. Deputy Speaker Yangku Tshering was also seen riding a cycle to work, while Trongsa MP Rinchen Dorji had also walked to work.
Well, it also came to pass that not everyone walked out of effortless compassion for the environment. Online forum users were not happy at all about the walk, which they expressed as something forced upon them without any proper public consultations.
Social networks and online discussions were highly buzzing sites of explosive comments and expressions.
The National Council (NC) MP, Sonam Kinga wrote on his Facebook: ‘Walk!’ the PM says, and the nation walks. Welcome to democracy.
A facebook status reads, “Couple of reports, of tourists unhappy with Pedestrian day walk”. Overheard in restaurants, says, ‘Government is trying to cook things in a pot, this pedestrian day will fail for sure! Can we make it work?’
On Twitter, a user wrote: “I shouted in the taxi saying there will also be a ‘No taxi day’ to which a taxi driver turned a deaf ear.”
A facebook user wrote: “I will not use the taxi solely for reasons that I neither spend that much amount of money for the fuel nor do I emit that much of carbon footprint in the air.”
Varying opinions were expressed by people on the pedestrian day, varying in intensity of wholly approval and bitter disapproval.
Kelly Dorji, an actor said, in a small country like ours I think such idea is not good as it does not make big differences. It is causing inconvenience to people who are doing business and to people who have to go to hospital urgently.
Kunga T. Dorji a journalist and an actor who is away from Bhutan said, “I’ll have to experience it first hand to make a fair assessment. But, from an outside perspective, it does seem like a good thing. No doubt many people will be inconvenienced but it does remind us to be more mindful of our own situation. I just wish the government had been more consultative with people before they decided on something as radical as this.”
A business man, Singey Dorji said, “It’s a great idea badly implemented.” He also said that majority of the emissions are produced by the excavators and trucks which are put to work in projects.”
A taxi driver, Uttam Kumar said pedestrian day gave people opportunity to walk freely, while it earned him mor money than usual.
“Usually I used to earn around 1000 to 1500 but today by mid-day I earned 2200 because of the people who are in rush to hire taxis.”
Some media houses were deeply inconvenienced by the pedestrian day which impacted on their performance and their businesses.
The Managing Director of Bhutan Today Tenzin Dorji said, he personally like the Pedestrian day, as he walked all the way from his house to the Office but in terms of business, he said, “as a matter of fact I think it will definitely affect our business and I fear that the reporters cannot report efficiently as they cannot reach different spots on time.
The media houses have jointly planned to write to the Cabinet explainng the inconveniences faced in the course of reporting news.