Despite many children visiting the Centenary Children’s Park in Thimphu, the playground facilities remain broken or unmaintained.
Thirty-one-year-old Jamyang Zangmo who is a regular visitor said that children could get hurt from the sharp edges of the broken equipment. She brings her four-year-old son to the park once a week. “The condition of the park has not improved since five to six months; it should be fixed immediately,”she added.
A taxi driver, Sukh Bahadur, who visits the park with his daughter said it is a good initiative to have an outdoor children’s park but the equipment need to be repaired as they pose threats to children’s safety. “There is a high risk that it could injure children if the children are not guided well,” he added.
Natra Bahadur Mongar said he seldom visits the park with his three-year-old daughter as he prefers to pay for his kid’s play in parks like that in Olakha.
“They are better maintained and therefore safe,” he said.
A first timer, great grandmother to a boy, also observed some of the equipment are not in good condition and can hurt children.
The manager of the Centenary Children’s Park, Sonam Dorji, said that a notice at the entrance of the park clearly states that children aged above 13 are not allowed to use the play equipment but they often spot even parents playing. “When we ask them not to play, they get angry and respond that it is no big deal,”said Sonam Dorji.
According to him, the park needs major renovation as they fix minor works themselves and the authorities concerned look forward to a budget from Thimphu Thromde.
The management has also displayed a notice for children to be cautious while playing, however, the sign board has disappeared, said Sonam Dorji.
Plastic wrappers, alcohol bottles, cigarette butts and diapers are all around the park, he said, despite the park being declared alcohol and drug free. The park has about eight dustbins.
“Additionally, some parents let their children play while they drink and smoke. Such practices in front of children are not healthy,” said Sonam Dorji.
Sonam Dorji said that once he encountered a man who came by in a car and threw two sacks of rubbish near the entrance of the park.
“I would like to ask the parents to keep the park clean, and free from drugs and alcohol because it is everybody’s responsibility to maintain public resources,” he said.
Sonam Dorji along with a caretaker and eight other youths join hands to clean the park every evening. Except for the caretaker, the team works as volunteers under social enterprise, Care Bhutan.
Care Bhutan mandates to help destitute youths and youths in conflict with law to have gainful employment and send them to rehabilitation centers.
About 10 to 15 children visit the park during weekdays and 30 to 40 children in the weekends.
The park timings are from 9 am to 6 pm in weekdays and 8 am to 6 pm in weekends.
Thimphu Thromde officilas were unavailable for comment.
Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu