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Too much chop and change

I’s an expressway!  No, it’s an urban road network.  Wait, It was a road link, but now it will be an expressway.

Confusing?  Yes.  But more confusing are the decisions authorities take to ensure the 6.2-kilometre long double lane Babesa-Thimphu road is safe for motorists and pedestrians.

In the latest development, at least in planning and not actually on the road, the Thimphu thromde has decided to remove the 11 speed bumps that also serve as zebra crossings.  Underpasses will replace them.  To start with, they will construct four.

The road, whatever name it may be called by, is becoming an epitome of planning mix-ups in the capital.  In the late 1990s, the government came up with a plan to build a double lane road that would give a grand entry into the capital city. The Thimphu-Babesa road link was born.  It took more than a decade to complete the road.  There was no official opening, probably to spare the blushes.

More than a decade later, we are still technically building the road.  Officials may call it improvement, but if every other year there is something being done to the road, it shows it is still not complete.  The latest development comes soon after the thromde, already cash strapped, spent about Nu 2 million in building the 11 speed breakers cum zebra crossings.

The bumps and the zebra crossings were a mess even before being built.  The road safety authority announced that pedestrians crossing the road anywhere but from the zebra crossings would be penalised.  That was before the road was marked.  Some un-pleasantries were exchanged between the authorities.  The marking of zebra crossings and speed breakers was not done first before notifying people.

With Nu 2M, we could have bought a waste incinerator to get rid of another problem the thromde is choked with.  The construction company that built the speed breakers will have the last laugh if they get the contract to build the underpasses.

Hopefully, the decision to build the underpasses will be the final decision and solve the problem.  The thromde cannot be blamed for the mess.  They took charge of the road from the roads department only in 2011.  By then, it was already a minor disaster.

It is wiser to leave the planning part to experts, but what is clear is there should be one lasting solution.  We cannot keep on breaking down wire meshes to be replaced by concrete structures and bring them down again.  The priority is smooth flow of traffic and safety for pedestrians.  It is not rocket science and our planners and engineers are well exposed to learn all the experiences in making a 6-km road safe and smooth.

It has almost become a cliché to say that, as a late developer, we learn from other’s mistakes.  What do we make of ourselves when we make worse mistakes?  The priority today is to make the traffic smooth and safe.  Hopefully we will not have to close the underpasses and build overhead bridges next.

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