Frustrated by the deteriorating condition of their roads and a lack of support from Thimphu Thromde, a group of determined residents in the Serbithang area of Thimphu has taken it upon themselves to repair the extensive potholes plaguing their neighborhood.
The road in question, stretching from the Royal Thimphu College (RTC) junction to the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) endpoint, had been a source of immense discomfort for commuters over the past few years. Potholes had multiplied, causing nightmares for travelers. The situation was particularly dire for those with soft vehicles and individuals carrying the elderly or the infirm, as the rough road conditions only exacerbated their discomfort.
In addition to the inconvenience, motorists were incurring substantial vehicle maintenance costs due to damage caused by navigating these sizable potholes. In the face of these challenges, around 25 residents of Serbithang banded together to take matters into their own hands.
Each resident contributed Nu 1000 towards the repair efforts, and some even donated machinery and labor. Aum Deki, for example, provided her roller machines and staff to assist in filling the potholes. To secure the necessary machinery and trucks, the residents outsourced them from contractors, covering fuel costs themselves through the pooled funds.
A concerned resident pointed out that road potholes posed a formidable challenge to commuters, affecting road safety, increasing vehicle maintenance expenses, and diminishing overall transportation efficiency. They had reached out to Thromde numerous times, but to their disappointment, their pleas often met with responses citing budget constraints or ignored altogether.
As one of the residents coordinating the pothole maintenance stated, “The road condition could deteriorate further if we wait for Thromde’s intervention. We are the ones suffering, so we decided to take matters into our own hands.”
Another resident, Sangay Wangmo, highlighted the importance of the road for the numerous offices in the area, emphasizing that Thromde should take into account its responsibilities. She also noted that tenants were vacating their premises due to the poor road conditions.
Since Thromde had failed to respond adequately, the community resolved to address the issue themselves, pooling resources in terms of cash and labor. They formally reached out to Thromde in a letter dated April 3, 2023, requesting the maintenance of the road along the Serbithang stretch.
In their letter, they highlighted that the road had suffered significant damage since 2012, with numerous dents, potholes, sinking gaps, and landslide-prone areas that needed immediate attention. They also stressed the importance of maintaining the drainage systems in the area.
Notably, the National Centre for Animal Health and the National Biodiversity Centre had also previously requested Thimphu Thromde to undertake road maintenance, but their pleas seemingly fell on deaf ears.
Residents in Serbithang expressed their frustration, pointing out that they paid urban taxes but received limited public services in return. They highlighted the absence of municipal water services and the reliance on private water pipelines.
Despite the challenges, the residents pressed forward with their road maintenance efforts, which, though commendable, they acknowledged were not as effective as they could be due to a lack of technical expertise.
It remains to be seen whether the Thimphu Thromde will respond to the residents’ pleas and take steps to address the road maintenance issue, which has been a source of considerable discontent among the Serbithang community.
Currently, efforts from the residents themselves have been the driving force behind any improvements in their local road conditions. Business Bhutan was unable to reach Thimphu Thromde for comment on the situation.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu