Public property: People have been slicing and cutting wooden trusses, railings and thresholds of bazams or traditional bridges in Thimphu to take home pieces of wood to use in religious rituals.
Old or new, all five of the bazams in Thimphu can be found to have numerous damages from knives.
Trusses, railings, and even the floors have been cut and sliced.
While the bazam next to the flyover and the Centenary Farmer’s market are no exception, even one that is being protected by security personnel and a CCTV camera has been subjected to the practice.
As a result, security personnel have resorted to covering the wooden thresholds with tin for protection.
“We had to shield it with tin because people were cutting it despite being monitored by a CCTV camera. People started cutting pieces of wood from the bridge at night after the CCTV camera was installed,” said a police personnel. “Here people can’t make such attempts in the daytime because we are also around,” the police personnel added.
Thimphu has five bazams located in Changjiji, Langjophakha, the Centenary Farmer’s market, Dodena and Pangrizampa. Among the five bazam, Dodena on the way to Tango monastery is the oldest.
The ones in Changjiji and the Centenary Farmer’s market were constructed only around a decade ago.
Namgay, an astrologer, from Bjemina said wooden pieces from bazam are used during various religious rituals. “Pieces of wood from bazam are also used in making sungkey (amulet),” the astrologer said.
“Placing a piece of wood from a bazam beside an infant is also said to help the baby sleep if she/he has trouble sleeping at night,” Wangchuk Rabten, resident from Changjalu, said.
But a senior technician from the dzong maintenance division, Phub Tshering said that cutting wooden structures of bazam does more damage to the structure than benefiting the individuals.
“While slicing pieces of wood from the trusses, thresholds and railings benefit a few individuals, such acts affect the bridge and its users at large,” Phub Tshering said.
“Firstly it damages the design of the bridge because of which it leads to early dilapidation incurring unnecessary expenses to the government coffer.”
Since, bazam are made from heavy timber, its quick deterioration caused by damages would exert undue pressure on forest resources. “People must stop such acts by considering the negative effects by slicing the wooden parts of bazam than being self-fish to fulfil a few individual’s religious beliefs,” the senior technician said.
Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said he has heard of such reports but has not really been able to see the damages himself. While the thromde is the custodian of bazam, the works and human settlement ministry also looks after the maintenance and construction.
Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee, however, said such acts are unsafe for users as it also weakens the structure itself.
“If they keep cutting the wooden structures the bazam might collapse one day,” Kinlay Dorjee said.
No complaints have been lodged with the thromde or has the municipality lodged complaints against any individuals for damaging bazam.
“But such acts are liable to punishment since it is causing damage to public property,” Kinlay Dorjee said.
To deter such acts, the thromde is planning to educate the public through the media.
“The thromde would also conduct awareness programmes in future to prevent people from damaging bazam,” the thrompon said.