Physically challenged friendly footpaths being built in P/ling

Feature Health

Phuentsholing Thromde has now installed disabled friendly tactile paving which will enable easy movement for the physically challenged.

Tactile paving (also called Tenji blocks, truncated domes, detectable warnings, tactile ground surface indicators, tactile walking surface indicators, or detectable warning surfaces) is a system of textured ground surface indicator found on footpaths, stairs and train station platforms to assist pedestrians who are visually impaired.

The patterns on the tactile provide a distinctive surface pattern of truncated domes, cones or bars detectable by long cane or underfoot which are used to alert the visually impaired of approaching streets and hazardous surface or grade changes.

The tiles were installed for the first time in the country in Phuentsholing Thromde. Thromde’s Chief Engineer from Infrastructure Division, Ashok Sunwar said the initiative was taken as per the Thromde’s Annual Performance Agreement with the government to make physically challenged friendly infrastructures in the city. The Thromde has planned to install the paving blocks in the 12th plan.

The tiles are being installed at the pedestrian footpaths along Goedoe Lam, Deki Lam, Phuensum Lam and Jordan Lam which are currently under maintenance at the core town.

The tiles are molded in Pasakha and costs around Nu 30 per piece which is equal to other normal paver blocks. With limited molds at the plant, it has become a challenge for the contractors to complete the work on time. There are only 25 molds at the plants currently manufacturing the tiles. The tiles are 30 square centimeters and 60 centimeter thick which the engineer said would be durable. The tiles are placed at the center of other tiles at the footpaths and will guide the visually impaired pedestrians. “As it has proved a success in other countries, we are confident that it will be a success in the future, if not immediately,” Ashok Sunwar said.

Phuentsholing, being a gateway to regional tourists, the footpaths are also expected to help differently challenged tourists too.

The Thromde is undertaking maintenance of footpaths and drainage systems in the core town which began in August last year. Around Nu 3.5mn is allocated for the works including installation of the paver blocks.

The entire project will be complete by February this year. “The work is delayed for weeks, but the outcome will be outstanding,” Ashok Sunwar said.

The works for installation of tactile along the footpaths of primary national Highways are also tendered out and the works are expected to begin soon. Installation of such paver blocks is also expected to start in other Thromdes and towns in the future. Thromde has plans to install blister tactile which is used for pedestrian crossing. It will provide safety features to the visually impaired before crossing the roads. It will also help in finding directions by using blister at the center and decide on the direction.          

A system of tactile paving was first instituted in Japan at pedestrian crossings and other hazardous road situations; the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States picked up the standard in the early 1990s. Canada started incorporating them into transportation first in the 1990s, and then added them to other aspects of the built environment in the early 2000s. 

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing

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