Thimphu Thromde Signage guidelines 2017 was endorsed by Thromde Tshogde (top decision-making body of Thimphu Thromde Office) in 2017 after which in 2018, almost all the printing shops within the city were sensitized about the new guidelines
However, the regulations regarding signboards remain unimplemented to this day.
Urban Planner from Thimphu Thromde, Kezang Dorji said, “Since February 2020, the guidelines came into effect after forming a team.” However, they have received only a few applications till now, and they feel that the public are still not informed about the new procedure.
“The size of the board depends on the surface area of the face of the building on which the sign will be erected where a maximum of 10% of that face of the house shall be used for signboards and any single signage shall not exceed 100 sq. ft,” he said.
Further, he also said that if five signboards need to be erected on a building face, then the 10% area of that feature of the erection has to be divided among themselves and used to erect signboards. However, only one signboard for one shop/ office/ any other entity that needs a signboard will be permitted per building.
“The format of the letter should not be in Italic Font except contact numbers and sign shall be sized as per pedestrian and vehicular movement,” he added. The signs have to be viewed through fast-moving vehicles and the letter size should be bigger than those which are viewed by pedestrians in the town.
It is mandatory to use Dzongkha Language on signage and may have larger or equal lettering size to English Lettering and should be written above the English Text. “This means that both Dzongkha and the English texts should be on the same board. Only one signboard is allowed for one shop in one building.”
The urban planner also said that there are different levels of offenses ranging from few hundreds to thousands. “However, since the implementation of the signage guidelines has just begun, we will first issue warning letters before imposing penalty fees.”
He also said the guideline ensures uniformity of signboard with minimum requirements after which requirements of creativity and expression can be fulfilled. Further, he said that making the of signboards uniform was to enhance the aesthetic nature of the city. “If we don’t provide guidance then the street will look messy like the neighboring town of Jaigaon.”
“The guideline only controls the outer part of the signboard; the artist can show his creativity inside the board but with the requirements fulfilled,” he added.
The signage guideline applies to all the organizations, offices, and shops. The main motive of the implementation of the guidelines is for the aesthetic view of the city. Therefore, the thromde is requesting the general public as well as the private organizations and the government organizations to follow the signage guidelines. “We will soon begin to inspect the existing signboards throughout the city.”
The owner of Image Arts Prints and Rubber Stamps at Thimphu said, “Many years back thromde has made a rule for uniformity of signboards with 1.5m by 1m but as the town developed the policy ceased.” He also said that shopkeepers make signboards depending on the size of their shops. “It will be a good idea if the thromde lets them make the signboard of their choice.”
“If the signboards are made uniform, then the creativity of the artist is wasted,” he added. Light Emitting Diode (LED) signboards are expensive with a minimum cost of around Nu 40,000 to 50,000.
He said that they charge a minimum of Nu 500-1,200 for an ordinary signboard which can be used for a small shop.
A shopkeeper from Thimphu, Singye Wangmo said, “If the thromde wants to bring uniformity of signboards then I am ready to follow the policy.” She also said that if signboards are made uniform it will look good in the eyes of the people and tourists.
One of the shopkeepers from Thimphu said that the policy was there since the 90s but was never implemented strictly. “I don’t know why the signboards are still not uniform.”
Sonam Tashi from Thimphu