Three candidates of Thimphu Thromde shared their promises and questioned each other about them at a public debate last week. The issue of water and road quality in the city was brought up as hot subjects.
A candidate from Dechencholing-Taba Sonam Dorji pledged to recognize water as a human right and supply water to all Thimphu residents for free.
He said that there is a separate water charge in the district, as well as a separate charge for maintenance.
“Water should not be charged, in my opinion, because it was made a fundamental human right since a decade ago. And, given the poor quality of the water, it’s a disgrace to even ask for a charge for it. It would be embarrassing for me as a businessperson,” he said.
Ugyen Dorji a candidate from Jungshina-Kawajangsa and a former employee in the Thromde said, “I’d like to make it clear to the general public that we never charge for water; it was always free. We were responsible for the upkeep of utilities when providing water, such as roads and water pipes. I believe Sonam didn’t understand the procedure because he doesn’t have any experience with it. As a result, Thromde’s ability to deliver services in the future would be hampered if fees are not collected.”
As an outsider who has not worked in the thromde, Sonam Dorji was more blunt in questioning Ugyen Dorji an urban planner on why the thromde had failed to execute its plans.
While Ugyen Dorji was involved in the implementation of the plans, he admitted that there may have been lapses because he was concentrating on a plan and had little say.
Meanwhile, incumbent Kinlay Dorjee asked Sonam Dorji for his opinion on where potholes are located, since he mentioned about it.
On this Sonam Dorji said, “I’m not sure if there’s a pothole where Dasho lives, but there are many along the express highway, as well as one near Kuensel’s office. We won’t be able to count potholes if we count them. Although the hole appears to be small, people are having trouble using the lane. Because of the potholes, there is traffic congestion. If it had been maintained, it would have cost Nu 1000 to Nu 2000, but instead of sitting on a chair, one would have to come forward to see the job.”
He added that the thromde would be able to give the citizens of the city ‘a city without potholes’ if former thrompon have thought about it and put a team in place to look after the roads in thromde.
“Is there no budget for maintenance? If not, I don’t see any flaws, it would have been addressed, but even a minor flaw can result in a difficult situation,” he added.
Sonam Dorji questioned the former city mayor about the low road condition and whether it was due to a lack of consultation.
He also said that during his campaigning an old lady had asked him how can the Thromde maintain cleanliness when its own office is so dirty.
Sonam also asked voters if they want to elect candidates who are from the Thromde or vote for change and elect somebody from outside.