Pedestrian Day stays no matter what Cynics, Critics or loyalists say

The Prime Minister and the agriculture minister justified the institution of the much contested ‘Pedestrian Day’ during the monthly Meet the Press session.

Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho said government is aware that all sections of the Bhutanese society are inconvenienced. He said all this is of a short-term nature but benefits are for the long term.

He said that they had not singled out any segment of the society and the Day was not exclusive for any individual or groups.

“But for certain groups, the taxi drivers in particular, were allowed to drive taxis as it is their source of income and livelihood,” Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho said.

The decision was taken after the cabinet and the ministry’s committee of secretaries (COS) and other stakeholders had agreed to it.

The agriculture minister said the country was 10 days away from observing the World Environment Day and there were discussions on how to do something substantial.

He said since Bhutan is “A Country recognized with such an invariable reputation for looking after environment there was a need for a demonstration which should be pivotal, requiring sacrifices from every individual”.

Therefore there was a unanimous decision among all the cabinet and COS members to go ahead with this exercise.

Lyonchhen Jigme Y. Thinley said the day was to be called “No Vehicle Day” but was finalized “Pedestrian day” as there was need for emergency services vehicles and other related services.

Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho said there was a detailed discussion with stakeholders such as Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA), Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), National Environment Commission (NEC), Bhutan Postal Corporation (BPCL) and many other agencies.

Following that, the route map was designed for the convenience and this would ensure that no one has to walk more than half an hour. Even the time to stop the movement of vehicle in the core areas after 8 Am and before 6 Pm was decided as per the convenience of the people.

“Enough time was given for parents to drop their children to school early in the morning and fetch them in the evening and also do their other works in the evening

He said pedestrian day was criticized for lack of consultations.

The agriculture minister asked, “Whom to consult? As this initiative would affect every single individual; regardless of age, gender, professions and health but would not impinge on one individual”.

He said “What is convenient to the civil servants might not be convenient to businessmen and what is convenient to armed forces may not be for other sections of the society”.

Lyonpo said pedestrian day would not have affected businesses as it wouldn’t change the number of consumers and consumption pattern.

Lyonpo said sales of cars and consumption of fuel had declined but this was intended as the main objective was to help control traffic congestion and fuel emissions.

Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho cautioned that Bhutan cannot afford to pollute beyond its capacity like other countries. he said.

“Cynics, who prefer to remain within their comfort zones, restrain to make any sacrifices for the benefit of the society and they will obviously complain.”

Lyonchhen said  “the move is not about convenience but about inconvenience, I am 62 years old, and for me to learn to ride a bicycle at this age is not convenient, to ride from Babesa to my office is not convenient, it’s physically challenging yet I have decided to go through it”.

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26 comments

  1. This is a total bullshit that DPT government is talking about. Not enough ground work had been done in getting this accepted by people of all walks of life. While they talk of creating vibrant democracy they do not know that consultation is one prominent feature of any rule to be passed. The humble parents of school-going children suffer always hiring taxis that costs their limited purse a huge amount in dropping and picking up their kids. In 2013, we should get rid of this autocratic government that had been falsely claiming to promote vibrant democracy. The opposition is doing its best to question the government but the majority, the mistake we made in 2008, voice represented in the name of PM and MoAF Minister nullifies the opposition’s presence in the parliament. Dear Bhutanese, lets join hands to totally get rid of this autocratic government in 2013 which is not very far.

  2. Ministers themselves have official drivers to drop their children from schoolat early hours. These drivers come early to ministers house, imagine if this ministers were normal wouldn’t they be grumbling same like us. When these people are in ministers position it is very easy to change things and decide at once, the problems are tolerated by ordinary people like us. I dont know what this ministers were thinking while deciding on this important issue. They must be watching balaji tv serial.

  3. how can the minister say that the inconvenience of the business community is for short term only ? after one year are they going to pay the businessmen for what they have lost?
    yes, as someone has suggested , this gov has taken many things for granted and unilateral decisions were the norm- the need is that it has to be ousted in 2013.

  4. Pedestrian day actually is a day many people get respite from being crooked by our businessmen, most of whom have no scruples at all. All they are looking for is to make a quick buck, any which way, while exploiting the people who work for them. I for one certainly have no sympathy for them.

  5. We can not please everyone, therefore the decision taken to observe Pedestrian Day is a work well done Job. The day has not affected business sectors either, because on Tuesday they are suppose to close to grant a day’s leave to the employees who are paid very low and required to work 24/7.

    Bhutan is a poor country but Bhutanese are rich, since all drive cars, hence spending few hundred Ngultrums on taxi on Tuesday will have very little impact.

    We the people have chosen the ruling party and whatever decisions they take are our decisions. Thus no grumbling on the DPT.

    The DPT is a ruling party, they will win and rule again from 2013 until 2017. So let us join hands and vote for DPT in 2013 election.

    All the best DPT and the Lyonchen.

  6. You should look at the number of cars speeding and rushing to offices/schools just before 8 am, and as well as vehicles cramping on the ring road (Chamzangtog-flyover road), which i find it certainly dangerous. Also, taxi drivers, going nuts over making fast bucks, driving crazily hunting for more passengers and more often defulting the road safety rules, is posing a big threat to those of us who walk to office. One funny thing, elsewhere in the districts, police are even restricting people from driving towards the town, or else the car documents and driving licenses are snatched away. Isn’t this really a height of stupidity? Yet another funny trend, lots of people are coming to office late these days using p-day as an excuse, and sadly enough, bosses have graciously accepted this practise and considered it as normal.

    I don’t understand what our govt is trying to achieve by imposing this p-day on public, when all it is doing is reaching a big inconvenience to the public and severely crippling an otherwise-a-normal tuesday. Even after this attempt, I doubt the common people will ever get to understand the purpose of the p-day and its positive impact on our environment. Bhutan is declared a carbon sink country and I would say, for now, the dire need of the hour is to educate people about the importance of creating healthy environments so that our country remains very much a liveable place for the generations to come through various effective mitigation and adaptation efforts ……….. however, imposing a p-day on working days is difinitely not a good strategy to start with. All we have seen so far is a lot of inconveniences, frustations, chaos, and mostly possibly any time soon we will see some ghastly road accidents and loss of lives.

  7. Dorji’s analysis reflects simple common sense and a solid connection with the realities and practical difficulties of the pday rule.

    The Monk and Birla reflect the stubborn attachment to the detached-from-reality thinking of the DPT. 

  8. Dorjis concerns are genuine, any new system needs some fine tuning to get the best results and the PD seems to be suffering from some teething problems too.

    • ‘fine tuning’? you’re talking like the cabinet ministers who still haven’t realized they’re ministers in a democracy. still dishing out decrees like self-appointed dictators. there’s no fine-tuning that can fix anything here because this half-baked idea is fundamentally undemocratic. 

      and when fuel is not being saved either, the idea is already a failure. And now the failure is compounded by yet again another scam in the bus scandal! Boy, this govt has no limit when it comes to fiascos!

      • apkado, your one brainless jerk, no matter how simply we try to explain things to you, it just refuses to enter your thick head.

    • again, like wise my points aren’t entering your similarly thick skull ‘your’ jerk.

      picked up some wrong english in the US, I believe?

      My point is this govt doesn’t understand the first thing about being a democracy which is why they believe this p-day decree is democratically acceptable.

      • You are a real troll, no sense in whatever you post, yet won’t accept that you write rubbish.

      • If I make no sense, why do you keep trying to rebut my points? Worried that others will see sense in my posts and turn against the DPT?

        • Come on, please stop joking, if I were the OL, I would be worried that I have a loose cannon like you supporting the party. In all honesty, seeing the rubbish you write, many people may actually turn away from your beloved PDP.

  9. Truth_is_Buddha

    1) On fuel consumption: Don’t just look at the Tuesday consumption – calculate monthly sales from petrol pumps and see if there is marked decrease in consumption over long periods. My guess is there willbe no marked decrease 2) On economic benefits: people travel longer distances or use taxis, incurring atleast 2-3 times more expenses on Tuesdays. In one month, personal expenses on this item is more by atleast 25%. This is the reason, people are unhappy, instead of saving costs people are spending more. 3) On Productivity: Offices are not 100% productive as people arrive late or are absent, thereby affecting productivity and service delivery. Public service is hampered and instead of 5 working week, due to logistic reasons the working days are now reduced to 4 days. Calcuated over long periods, this is serious productivity loss. This is quite the opposite to the objective of people-meeting-people on pedestrian days. 5) Happiness scale: I have not seen a single person who has not disliked the P-day, becasue of everyday inconveniences. 6) Wastage of public resources: Hard earned tax payer money that would be put to good use are spent in additional deployment of police, RSTA personnel on p-days.Therefore it is time to stop these cheap publicity stunts and bring into place good public friendly policies that look into bigger savings at national scale and not try to be ‘penny wise & pound foolish’

  10. The P-day is not about saving expenses, but reducing INR outflow to some extent. If a drop of water is poured into the ocean it is said that it will never dry. Some of us spend millions on gambling yet we do not feel the pinch, we feel very disgusted to spend few hundred ngultrum on taxis on Tuesdays to reach our children to school and back. Even if we drive our car there is expenditure on fuel, wear and tear, time loss etc. we should really look from so many angles before we make hue and cry on the noble initiative to introduce P-day. Just my opinion!

    • Yes we should ‘look from many angles’ and so should the government. How do we save INR if we use taxis that then use up the iNR we would be using? Pday makes no sense which ever way you look at it. Unless of course you are an ardent DPT supporter. 

  11. I mentioned save INR to some extent and this is one of the pillars of P-Day. If the P-Day do not make sense then you can drive your car to office on TUESDAY SO THAT YOU GET THE REAL SENSE WHICH YOU NEVER GOT IN YOUR LIFE. All the best for your courage!

    • Yes, isn’t it ironic that we need ‘courage’ to do what is a citizen’s right in other countries. Brainless cabinet members get together and make a rule and have to use state machinery (police) to make the citizens comply. Sounds like North Korea to me.

  12. Lets applaud DPT for this wise move. I am pleased with the pedestrian day and so shall everyone of us. Let us give some respite to our environment at least for a day in a week. go GNH go.. 

  13. I have got the opportunity to listen to some of the answers Hon’ble Agri Lyonpo made yesterday on BBS. While I never had disagreement with the objective (Environment), i would like to very humbly submit that I quite disagree to most of the justification not because I belong to some org or party but because they are simply not ok.

  14. Whether one likes it or not, the P-Day is a rule every one must abide by it. Hence, let us stop the blame game and forget about it like we did for Tobacco Ban. Three cheers for the Ruling Party and the OL for successfully implementing the P-Day. Hip, Hip Hooray.

    ROO–KHA, YONGTER(DISMISS)

    • ‘whether the citizens like it or now” is it? I’m telling you, i thought i was just dreaming, but I tell you this is not Bhutan it is north korea. 

      The only capitalists are the taxi drivers.

  15. I have noticed that any laws, rules for e.g like pedestrian day, it is meant for the common people only, common people suffer if policy is good then it’s meant for the rich and powerful lots, if policy is bad then it’s for the common people. my house is near the office, have no school going kids, and not many traffic problem also, so pedestrain day has no effect on me, but what i didn’t like is that while ordinary people and their children walking to schools come rain or shine especially in hot tropical southern dzongkhags, we see armed force esp RBP navy blue hilux carrying officers children to school. At that time, i realized how privilleged they are and how under privilleged we are. Nothing is making us more sader to see the differences in the way the law or pedestrian policy etc treating its citizens. It seemed there is no law or rather pedestrian days were not made for RBP families, the pedestrain day theme, walking for health and preserving environment seemed to be the responsibility for ordinary lay man, civil servant, etc like you and me, but not for them. Won’t it be nicer if law is implemented equally and uniformly by all the citizens irrespective of their profession, race, power, prestige, blah…. Innocent citizen who abides by any type of laws of the country is searching for the answer here, ‘why is there so many flaws in our system or why is our system being corrupt or has it really become a reality now that people are saying there are two types of laws in the country, one paper rule with biting teeth and another paper less rule with no biting teeth/no rule, the former meant for ordinary people while the later for rich and powerfull and who have jabtha with lyonpos, dashos, secretaries etc..blah..

  16. Pedestrian day is a Bogus Day! funny rules, funny people makes this kind of rules… 
    like banning of tobacco imports but how about alcohol? distilleries? which are more of a harm than smoking!!! 

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