Thimphu Thromde increased its parking fees from Nu 15 to Nu 20 for 30 minutes on the street and from Nu 10 to Nu 15 for off-street parking, effective from 1 April 2020.
The massive hike in parking fees drew significant criticism, with many questioning why the Finance Ministry granted the Thromde’s request from early 2020.
According to Thimphu Thrompon, Ugyen Dorji, the parking fee was already proposed and approved, and the management cannot intervene now.
He explained that once it is accepted, turning it around and revisiting it is difficult, but there is a possibility that it would be increased yearly as per the concession agreement, and that this is where Thromde may intervene.
“In terms of future increments, we can intervene and see, research, and assess if it is actually essential to be increased or not. But I don’t think that’s easy since there are so many third parties involved. It is being proposed, endorsed, and approved based on findings, but they also have a provision for future inflation, which we can truly study and look into as Thromde is the main party,” he said.
He explained that the key objective of charging a parking fee is to minimize the number of cars on the road, because it is an economic tool to encourage people to walk instead of driving. However, the amenities must be adequate, which thromde is working on.
“At the end of the day, just a few things are in one’s control. If you believe the parking fee is excessive, you should not drive. Individual attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors should all be altered in order to achieve a better city. People complain about traffic congestion, and while we can see that traffic along the four-lane from Bhutan Telecom has improved, there is still traffic congestion, which has worsened recently. The vehicles can be seen forming a line. If there are no other options, rather than complaining, you should not take the car, and if you do, you will have to face the consequences,” he said.
He went on to say that after only four or five months in office, he discovered that there is a cost to living in the city, and that the strategy now is to change the people’s mindset and behavior, so as to address some of the pressing problems.
“While we ask them to leave their cars at home, we must also provide a proper bus, bus stops, footpath, and everything else, and there should not be any traffic congestion on the roads. And Thromde is working on it,” he added.