Unplanned growth, poor implementation of building rules and an uncontrolled increase in the number of vehicles is taking its toll on the capital city.
As of August this year, there are 54,661 vehicles in Thimphu and only about 2,479 designated parking slots in the main thromde area. This is roughly about one parking slot for 22 vehicles in the city’s main thoroughfare.
Outside the core city, lack of parking space is driving both law enforcers and vehicle owners crazy. Without parking space provided, residents park along the roads making the already congested roads narrower.
While the increasing number of vehicles is making the already small pace smaller, building owners violating building rules is attributed to the congestion of the city’s roads. The thromde’s building regulation requires enough parking space to get the building drawings approved. However, house owners after getting the approval start turning basements into rental spaces given the promising prospect of additional income.
Parking space is identified as one of the major problems in the capital city. Unless there are stringent measures, the thromde will be losing a losing battle with banks giving cheap vehicle loans and government policies on mass public transport still missing.
The thromde’s multi-level car parking at the mouth of Norzin lam is underutilised. It has a capacity to accommodate 200 cars, but there are no takers. Parking fee, motorists say is expensive while it is too far from major centres people visit. The hope is pinned on the other parking building at Zangdopelri.
The stick rule
Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee is adamant that the parking issue will be resolved. The thrompon and his team have resorted to the stick rule. “We will do away with the roadside parking, totally,” he said. “Thus, tenants in buildings without parking space have the choice to go to buildings where there are parking spaces or demand the landlord for space.”
Thrompon will have the last laugh. “The easiest thing will be to move out because every time we put a sticker for parking by the roadside, tenants will have to pay Nu 750 each. It becomes a costly affair for everyday parking,” he said.
In a move to make roads a no parking zone, thromde abolished roadside parking by the ring road that starts from the flyover bridge to Changbangdu area.
Thrompon said that the no parking by the ring road has been effective and people have now started appreciating it. “In fact, people are choosing the ring roads to travel because there is less traffic now,” he said.
This rule has been extended to Babesa. Police paste a sticker on cars parked by the roadside, take a picture of the car and note the car number. Then a fine of Nu 750 is levied payable within three days.
Other areas in Thimphu can expect similar measures. The thromde is in the process of repairing roads. Once the roads are repaired and the marking on the roads done, all roads within the thromde should be free of parked cars.
Thromde, in collaboration with the traffic police will ensure that this rule is implemented.
The thromde also has a trick up its sleeves. They will ensure that building owners allocate parking spaces to its tenants. This will be monitored through the occupancy certificate the thromde issue to owners.
Lack of adequate parking space will result in cancelation of renewal of occupancy certificate. “If they don’t have the occupancy certificate for at least two months, we will start disconnecting their utilities like electricity and water,” the thrompon said.
By making the renewal mandatory in a year, thromde expects to catch the manipulation that happens between getting the building drawing approved and the actual construction of the building. This will ensure house owners don’t convert allocated parking space for other purposes.
Another idea will be locking the wheel of the cars parked by the roadside. The thromde has about 20 wheel lock machines to lock the wheel of violators. But it is yet to be implemented. According to thrompon, the implementation has to be done with the help of the police.
Once implemented, wheels of cars parked by the roadside will be locked so that they cannot be moved. Owners will have to come to pay the fine in the thromde, get the receipt and then get the locks opened.
This according to the thromde is about streamlining the process and making people respect the law.
“It is not about harassing people, but making them stick to rules. We are making the process longer because paying fine is not a problem for people,” he said.
There will be awareness created on the new rules before they are implemented.