Thimphu and floods

The heavy monsoon downpours are upon us again. And like every other year, the old sewer and drain pipes in the capital city were inundated with the deluge of water. 

Most residents in Thimphu are worried with the sudden rivulets that spring up in commercial and residential areas, and water-logged roadways. It is a dangerous time for pedestrians to move around since one can never guess if there is an open manhole or even a leaking electric line under the knee deep water on the roads and foot paths.

Thimphu residents were shocked and grumbling about the recent heavy waterlogging on the expressway below the Olakha pedestrian bridge.

Residents blamed the flooding on poorly maintained water drains. “We have never seen such extreme waterlogging before.  It’s because of the poor drainage system,” explained Chimi, a resident in Olakha.

Another resident, Leki, said, “It is distressing to witness the lack of a basic drainage infrastructure in the capital. A few days ago, the cars underneath the Olakha pedestrian bridge were swimming. This appears to be the result of either an inadequate drainage system or engineering carelessness. Sewage water overflowing is a common occurrence throughout the city, not only in Olakha. If Thromde doesn’t handle these problems, they will continue to exist if the excessive rain continues.”

Pema Sonam said it will lead to the road eroding.

“This is my first experience with rain waterlogging on a road. I felt as if I were standing in a puddle of filthy drain water. The cars were seen driving slowly, almost as if they were swimming in a pool. The city should have reacted swiftly to install a water pump to divert the water to the drains. Everyone was relaxed, as if it wasn’t my job. To avoid such a scene, Thromde should install a proper drainage system,” he said.

According to the Chief Engineer of Thimphu Thromde, Yeshi Wangdi, the drain along the highway below the Olakha Park was clogged with debris and garbage, and there are numerous private water pipes along the drain; both of these factors contributed to flooding because the water could not pass through.

Thimphu Thromde is trying to make inspection chambers along the drains. He said that since most of the pipes within Thimphu Thromde are quite old and some of them lack the carrying capacity. However, in critical areas, Thromde is upgrading to bigger Hume Pipes, which is being done annually.

“We are also adding screens at certain intervals to catch debris and waste so it doesn’t block the Hume Pipes,” he said.

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