Roads in Olakha cry for repair

Environment Opinion

One can hear the silent cries of the roads in Olakha. They have experienced too much hurt and abuse. For the past two years or so, the cries have fallen on deaf ears. 

Residents have been photographing and sending pictures of the roads to Bhutanese forums on social media. And people have been crying themselves hoarse trying to draw the attention of authorities.

The roads are riddled with potholes or maybe craters are more like it.

Thimphu seems to be an alien planet with a lot of craters but Olakha is the proverbial icing on the cake, when it comes to damaged, never maintained, bad roads.

Between cabbies and commuters, it is always a fantastic conversation starter that sparks off a dialogue on how irresponsible the Thimphu Thromde is, and if it is a monologue with the driver harping on the catastrophic effects that the endless bumps and holes have on the car, the driver ends up making the customer pay a few extra bucks.

Experts say that the dangerous scars on the road network have been created by more than just hard frost.  “Ice, under-investment, a public-spending squeeze, heavy traffic and digging-mad utility companies are considered to be the cause for this chaos on the road,” said a man under anonymity.

But what seems to be more dangerous is the apathy, impassivity and brazen nonchalance from the authorities.

Vegetable vendors are struggling to survive with all the hardships this situation brings. The dust billows and the lack of proper space along the roads are a huge concern for them as it affects customer turnout.

 “The bad road condition is affecting our business,” said a 53-year-old vendor, Choki.  

Some residents are of the view that in the whole of Thimphu city, Olakha roads are the worst.

A civil servant, Jigme Dorji, said that a well-maintained road will withstand snow and ice. “This is a legacy of government underfunding and siphoning of road maintenance money into other projects.”

He added that the majority of people are disappointed with the road conditions. “They are a nightmare come real,” said one regular commuter.

Potholes are caused when water penetrates tiny cracks in the road – cracks that are usually caused by traffic. When this water freezes, it expands, widening the cracks. When the ice melts, traffic thumps down on the space vacated by the ice and smashes new craters into the road surface.

In an earlier interview with Business Bhutan, a staff from Thimphu Thromde said there was no budget for road maintenance.

Phub Dem from Thimphu