Roads in Olakha cry for re­pair

Business Bhutan - - In Focus - Phub Dem from Thim­phu

One can hear the silent cries of the roads in Olakha. They have ex­pe­ri­enced too much hurt and abuse. For the past two years or so, the cries have fallen on deaf ears.

Res­i­dents have been pho­tograph­ing and send­ing pic­tures of the roads to Bhutanese fo­rums on so­cial me­dia. And peo­ple have been cry­ing them­selves hoarse try­ing to draw the at­ten­tion of author­i­ties.

The roads are rid­dled with pot­holes or maybe craters are more like it.

Thim­phu seems to be an alien planet with a lot of craters but Olakha is the prover­bial ic­ing on the cake, when it comes to dam­aged, never main­tained, bad roads.

Be­tween cab­bies and com­muters, it is al­ways a fan­tas­tic con­ver­sa­tion starter that sparks off a di­a­logue on how ir­re­spon­si­ble the Thim­phu Thromde is, and if it is a mono­logue with the driver harp­ing on the cat­a­strophic ef­fects that the end­less bumps and holes have on the car, the driver ends up mak­ing the cus­tomer pay a few ex­tra bucks.

Ex­perts say that the dan­ger­ous scars on the road net­work have been cre­ated by more than just hard frost. “Ice, un­der-in­vest­ment, a pub­lic-spend­ing squeeze, heavy traf­fic and dig­ging-mad util­ity com­pa­nies are con­sid­ered to be the cause for this chaos on the road,” said a man un­der anonymity.

But what seems to be more dan­ger­ous is the ap­a­thy, im­pas­siv­ity and brazen non­cha­lance from the author­i­ties.

Veg­etable ven­dors are strug­gling to sur­vive with all the hard­ships this sit­u­a­tion brings. The dust bil­lows and the lack of proper space along the roads are a huge con­cern for them as it af­fects cus­tomer turnout.

“The bad road con­di­tion is af­fect­ing our busi­ness,” said a 53-year-old ven­dor, Choki.

Some res­i­dents are of the view that in the whole of Thim­phu city, Olakha roads are the worst.

A civil ser­vant, Jigme Dorji, said that a well-main­tained road will with­stand snow and ice. “This is a legacy of gov­ern­ment un­der­fund­ing and si­phon­ing of road main­te­nance money into other projects.”

He added that the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are dis­ap­pointed with the road con­di­tions. “They are a night­mare come real,” said one reg­u­lar com­muter.

Pot­holes are caused when wa­ter pen­e­trates tiny cracks in the road – cracks that are usu­ally caused by traf­fic. When this wa­ter freezes, it ex­pands, widen­ing the cracks. When the ice melts, traf­fic thumps down on the space va­cated by the ice and smashes new craters into the road sur­face.

In an ear­lier in­ter­view with Busi­ness Bhutan, a staff from Thim­phu Thromde said there was no bud­get for road main­te­nance.

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