“Buildings, buildings everywhere; not one apartment to stay!” could well become the anthem of Thimphu folks. Construction is booming: an increasing number of buildings are cropping up but ask anyone in the capital and he or she will say that the scarcest resource in town is accommodation.
And house owners are capitalizing on this fact to the hilt. Not only are rents soaring, it is soaring within periods of time not mandated by the tenancy act, which states that rent can be increased by 10% within two years. Reports of house owners breaking the rule are widespread.
Tenants have little choice but to cater to the house owners’ demands as they will be shown the door otherwise. The tenancy act has indeed remained only on paper. Whom do we blame? While house owners also have to repay loans, rents definitely cannot be increased on their whims and fancies.
Thimphu is becoming expensive with costs of living escalating. And added to that, an ever-increasing house rent is like a burning hole in the pocket.
The relevant authorities can take initiatives to resolve this issue like ensuring that the tenancy act has teeth by implementing it strictly and holding house owners accountable. The government can also provide cheap accommodation for those in the lower economic rungs.
The idea is to bridge the gap between the have and the have-nots. We cannot possibly encourage a system where the rich keep on amassing wealth at the cost of the poor or average-income people while the bank balance of those at an economic disadvantage dry up.
The tenancy act should be strictly enforced as well. We, as a nation, have become very good in planning policies and strategies but sadly, concrete results of these are hardly if ever seen.
We have people like cleaners living in slum-like dwellings. It is not a pretty sight and the fact that human beings are forced to habitat such sordidness is not good news for a GNH-nation.
The government would do well to spread benefits and rights to every segment of the society. Food, clothing and shelter are fundamental rights that every citizen must have access to.
Starting with reasonably-priced accommodation is not a bad idea.
On the sidelines, the authorities should also take heed to the town planning. With buildings mushrooming virtually everywhere, Thimphu is becoming an eye sore of sorts.
Potholes, open drains, manholes, hanging water pipes and ill-managed garbage are visible in every vicinity. These can pose threats to safety as well.
Government resources should be channeled usefully and efficiently into the right requirements and this includes a well-functioning, clean, presentable, even beautiful town.
For this, the people are as much responsible. House owners and the municipality should work in synergy to make accommodation easily accessible. Let Thimphu not become a horror destination especially for the marginalized.