The city roads in Thimphu are so bad that people have now stopped waiting for the thromde whose job it is to fix. There is not a single stretch of road long enough that is not without a pothole. In places, depressions are like craters hollowed by the impact of meteorite.
The city residents have started to come forward to fix potholes. Some called themselves the Bhutan Pothole Police. There is also a group called Mission Potholes. These volunteers work on projects to fix potholes in different parts of the city. Last week, a group of more than 60 volunteers was seen fixing the bad roads in Olakha and Changjalu. A month ago, some 27 volunteers were seen fixing the roads in Changzamtok and Kawajangsa that were riddled with potholes.
Bad roads are dangerous to drive on. Drivers and pedestrians are both at risk.
What is really going wrong with mending our roads is that we tend to just fill the holes and ruts temporarily. Potholes continue to reappear so. If a bad road must be fixed, a whole stretch must be scrapped and resurfaced. Thromde officials tell us that potholes are created by sewerage and water leakages. If that’s why we have potholes everywhere, our plans should allow for sensible drainage system so that such leakages do not destroy the condition of our roads.
What the volunteers coming forward to fix bad roads shows us is that the people have lost faith in the very organisations whose responsibility it is to take care of our city roads. It should not happen that the city’s residents have to come out to mend the roads when we have thromde with the clear and special mandate to take care of the city’s infrastructure. Well, it could be argued that people coming out to fix potholes on the roads is good because each and every one of us should feel it as our responsibility to take care of our roads. That is exactly what the volunteers at Olakha and Changjalu said.
But we must know that there is a danger with this kind of thinking in the society. How do we make sure that such acts of volunteerism are sustainable, for instance? Cleaning campaigns that we conduct every now and then are an example. Because there are cleaners today and there very well could be tomorrow, people continue to discard garbage mindlessly.
Such volunteerism on the roads comes with a danger of making out thromde more laidback.