The numerous potholes found on the busy roads in Thimphu is a major concern for motorists and pedestrians alike. The potholes, some as wide as half the road itself and deep, are challenging to drive and walk on. Not to mention, the damage that the vehicles suffer from hitting the rough bumps.
According to Thimphu Thromde, it is difficult to maintain the road condition and fill in the potholes within the allocated budget provided.
According to the Head of Urban Road and Bridge, Thimphu Thromde, Sangay Wangdi, there is no budget allocated for mending potholes alone. However, he said a budget of Nu 5 mn has been allocated for road maintenance. “The budget is limited and it is difficult to maintain more than 200 km road on the allocated budget,” he said. According to Thromde, Nu 5 mn is not sufficient if they are to maintain the whole road in Taba, which comes around 3km.
He said that the roads under Thimphu Thromde are in dire need of resurfacing as it was black topped almost ten years back. The total length of blacktopped road under Thimphu Thromde alone is 250 km. “Not only the length of road is high but also due to heavy traffic it is tough job to maintain the potholes on time,” Sangay Wangdi said.
On the potholes in Taba, Sangay Wangdi said, “It is very difficult to maintain the potholes, today, we blacktop the potholes in one area and the very next day it would be somewhere else.”
Emphasizing on potholes at Changedaphu (Kala Bazaar), he said that they have worked with the road from Druk School junction until the end of the road in 2012, but in 2014 the sewer lane project came in and the project was assigned to Druk Kuenzang Construction. In order to place the sewer lane underground and lay the connection with the treatment plant, the road required to be dug up to 3 meter height.
“They are suppose to actually reinstate whatever damages they have done while digging up the road to place the sewer lane, but they have not reinstated properly,” Sangay Wangdi said. In addition, he said that the Thromde had given the contractor the time to rectify the damage, but the contractor has not done so as yet.
However, he said that the contractor may be waiting for the monsoon season to end as they cannot do any blacktopping during monsoons. He added, “They might blacktop the road when the monsoon is over and for a time being, the potholes are covered with red mud that will not last for long.”
To address the potholes just above the Damchen Petroleum in Olakha, the roads from Damchen petroleum station until the Mani Dungkhor in Simtokha, are now taken up by Department of Road (DoR) even though it was under Thimphu Thromde.
“With the instruction from Lyonpo Dorji Choden, Ministry of Work and Human Settlement, they are going to bring up the road at the Asian Standard level. They already started widening the roads and will blacktop the road after the monsoon season,” Sangay Wangdi said.
Tshomo, a resident in Changedaphu, said that they face lots of difficulties to get a taxi to travel home after shopping. She said, “Because of the potholes, taxi drivers refuse to go, some taxi drivers they are ready to go but only if we are ready to pay higher than the normal rate.”
Palden, another resident in the same area and who owns a car, shared that usually he does not take his car due to the potholes. He either walks or takes a taxi, but he said it is difficult to get a taxi in Kala Bazaar.
“I don’t want to spoil my car, I would rather walk than take my car and make a scratch on it,” he said.
A local taxi driver said that he does not travel to the areas where there are potholes because it will cause damage to his taxi and he will end up spending a huge amount in repairs.
“I sometime get a customer who is ready to pay high till Kala Bazaar but I never go because it is better to preserve what we have. I don’t want to take risk because of that amount,” he said.
The potholes on the roads occur mainly due to improper water drainage and water leakage and poor quality construction aggravated by heavy traffic.