Road to nowhere

The double-lane road below Norzin Lam has recently attracted a lot of attention. Dorji Wangchuk, in his blog, complained that he was clueless about the purpose of the “middle road”. And Kuensel questioned government officials why the road was built in the first place.

The double-lane road was built to take away Norzin Lam’s vehicular traffic, so that it could be converted to a completely pedestrian path. That, according to the Thimphu Structural Plan developed by Professor Christopher Beninger, was the idea. But that is not happening.

Norzin Lam continues to be used by vehicles traveling towards Chubachu. Vehicles returning from Chubachu use the lower lane of the double-lane road, leaving the “middle road” empty.

Our officials claim that Norzin Lam cannot be converted to a pedestrian lane because they do not have “budget and resources”. That is nonsense. If Norzin Lam is closed to vehicular traffic, it will automatically become a completely pedestrian lane. And without investing much money, a lot of what was envisioned for a pedestrian Norzin Lam can be realized.

It’s not about budget and resources.

So what is it about? I see two possibilities. One, that the government does not have the political will to close Norzin Lam to vehicles. And two, that the whole idea of converting Norzin Lam to a pedestrian lane was wrong.


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  1. This makes me remember my teacher Lam Kezang.
    He always said;

    “Ma tsam pani chok intey, tsam par dokpa mija wa.”

    In plain English, it simply means;
    It’s best you do not start something, once you start, finish it.”

    Our planners are not result oriented. They start off weird projects just about any where and they abandon it half way. I think they are not planning but assuming. Otherwise, why would they even start something when they know that they are not capable of completing it. And at the end, the result is always a half baked potato.
    It is a total waste of government money to start off projects and not complete it.
    Even if a project is completed, it lacks a synchronous operation from the different departments involved in making it usable to the public.

    Measure twice, chisel once.

  2. I took the middle road once driving down and as i reached the turn off to Taj hotel – a cop stopped to question why I took the middle road. I asked him if I was breaking any rule by taking that road and he mentioned that no one took that road. Of course, he did not have an answer why we were not allowed to use that road. We had a very good understandable argument for about five minutes and then he let me move on. I told him to raise this issue to his traffic boss and he agreed. However, I am not sure if he ever raised it coz I was stopped again last week by another cop and we had the same issue – wasted another 5 minutes. He agreed to inform his OC and we resolved. I always drive down the middle road when ever I can as my children love it without any traffic even if it is just few minutes. Such is life in our system….

  3. I think MIDDLE PATH was what was envisioned. Thats of course not true. Such things can only happen in Bhutan. Do you know some guys are locked for paltry sum of misuseing Govt. fund? Here the bugger who ordered such a folly is perhaps headed for yet another BIG post. We never know. May be….

  4. Pedestrianizing Norzin Lam would mean changing attitude of the Thimphu population who use it – motorists, pedestrians, shopkeepers and all. We need people to walk so that business is profitable when shops see the volume of customers milling about. It would also mean managing traffic flow (both humans and vehicles) – the shops have to be stocked and vehicles would have to be allowed at some odd hours solely for such purposes and also for garbage removal, and utility services. Then comes the famous permit system – remember the coronation? Thimphu was pleasantly pedestrian for a few days, but then soon every car was “media” or “tourist” or some official or the other. Everybody starting misusing the “permits.” So, what is the point really??? It really is in our mindsets to drive even if for 1 kilometer.

    Just because it was pleasant to walk the cobbled streets of Europe when the minister was doing his wife’s shopping during the last study tour or conference doesn’t mean that we can replicate that here just like that. It really requires holistic planning, and follow through.

    For a city of about 100,000 it really shouldn’t be that difficult, mena? We claim to be Buddhists not interested in materialistic consumerism, but look at what’s happening to house rent! Where do the low income groups stand a chance? The last article in Kuensel says it all. BTW do we not have the “Right to Information Act” now? Can we not take TCC to court for refusal to share information. The biggest threat to progress in our society is this lack of transparency. Only when the common people is informed will we see true democracy.

    Yawn…long way to go still!

  5. The government wastes money on countless useless projects, and no one is taken to task. This road could have been a useful farm road in a remote community. Or even a mobile phone tower in another, or a school. But no, we want to build another “model town.” Enough already, change your planning methods, have your land allotment protocol worked out. Remember Bajo? Access roads and street lamps have been up for quite sometime now, but the allotment was politicized and misused by corrupt individuals.

    The Supreme Court? Wasn’t a design proposed by some Bhutanese overridden by the need for a foreigner, again? What is with this fascination with anything foreign???

    Responding to current fuel prices, and oblivious to everything else, the government is trying to slash bus and taxi fares – this is easiest to implement, because the taxi drivers can’t complain. Top-down is okay, it seems. Why can’t the Ministers’ wives lower house rent, or at least keep it the same. Their greed can’t be checked, but the taxi drivers’ livelihood can be miserably controlled. What kind of GNH is this?

    I say form a Taxi Drivers’ union and start protesting. Form a tenants union and start protesting. Peacefully and in a civil manner of course. We don’t want the ruckus of uncivilized hooliganism, but surely the masses need to make their voices heard! A precedence has already been set. Get your kabneys and gather in the Chubachhu parking lot next to the Royal Palace. Only HM can set this right. Insolent greed!

  6. Hon'ble OL, though serious, forget about other issues. Trying to address all issues together will lose the focus. Focus on the most dangerous thing that PM is doing: Planning to Award contract to Christoper Benninger without Tender. It is white collar corruption of organized crime in the country. Millions of Nu. is taken by high level leaders in commission. So until, you address it boldly. I will keep bugging you and repeating my point:

    Christoper Benniger leads a white collar, highly organized corruption in Bhutan. Thimphu Structural Plan and Supreme Court desgins are both failure (not able to deliver on time and costing huge). In the case of Supreme Court plan, Christoper Benninger makes contractor required to buy for example, CGI sheets from India but has to root through Singapore (making it seem like from Singapore) and a Minister approves it (many ministers it seems indirectly). Why? Commission, commission, huge commission. Commission like that is a white collar corruption. Also openly discussed at:

    PM talks about learning from past mistakes. Why rewarding and repeating past mistakes deliberately and intelligently if it is not corruption? Or is even PM involve in this white collar corruption? Bhutanese society is not stupid.

    Opposition Leader, please do something about it. Only you have the boldness and courage to face the PM. I don't like you personally but I admire your courage for the good of the country. I may not like you but my children will appreciate you for making their future clean. I voted for DPT and supported PM but now I am losing faith in him.

    Do something!

  7. dear salamani,
    “BTW do we not have the “Right to Information Act” now? Can we not take TCC to court for refusal to share information.” well, according to the constitution, we do have the “right to information”. but we do not have the act as such. WHY? because even though it has been drawn up, it has not been discussed by the NA.
    What does that mean? simply that even though we have the right on paper, we can not use it. RTI(india is one of the few countries to have it)specifies a certain time period for any organisation in which they must answer any question that you have (with some exceptions, of course.) unless the act comes thru, it wont be much use to us. I talked to the Cheif Justice, and he didnt seem to be in much of a hurry to press the law, which he drew up. Only after NA discussed it, it will be a law, n the next session is in summer, wonder if they will discuss it then, v v important!!!!

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