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Time for the stick rule

Time for the stick rule

The Thimphu thromde had let go hundreds of people who were found
violating the solid waster management rules. They had warned the
violators and would fine them if they repeat the offence.

This is a good move from the thromde. The rules are in place and the
thromde giving these people the last warning is the best strategy. In
fact, it is a good way of creating awareness of their rules and the
consequences, far more effective than advertising through the media.
These people will not only be cautious, they will spread the word.

The occasion to let them go scot-free this time is also appropriate.
Every February 5, when the nation celebrates the birth anniversary of
The Gyalsey, residents will be reminded of the rule.

Keeping the capital city is a tremendous challenge. We have tried it
decades ago. It has become messier because of the expansion. The city
has expanded from Decehncholling to way beyond the thromde boundary at
Ngabirongchhu (the point where we enter the expressway). The thromde
can do only so much. Recognising this, they have taken abroad
community participation in keeping the city clean.

When people are made responsible for maintaining their own area and
public property, it becomes very effective. Giving ownership to the
community is one of the best management practices all over the world.
The thromde had also appointed about 87 community volunteers to make
it effective.

However, the thromde cannot wash off its hand. The committee of
volunteers will be only effective if they have the backing of the
thromde and the government. They need legal tooth and powers. If the
community is given the power to penalize, for instance, people who
dump waste in open areas, they will be respected. Just appointing a
committee will not be the solution.

Those who have volunteered are already facing challenges. They are
seen as bothersome people who have volunteered to please the thromde
or the government. This is where we need clarity. If the volunteers
and their committee are given powers with by laws, in other words,
formalize them, they will be more effective. It will also make them
work conveniently.

Listening to the volunteers, their service is free. They feel they can
make a difference in the place they live. They should not be seen as a
bunch of people bothering the neighbourhood. They need to be
recognized as an important body and powers to implement what they are
asked to.

Meanwhile, the thromde had enough of the carrot rule. They should now
start penalizing people who violate the rule. Despite nationwide
cleaning campaigns on important days to drive home the message to keep
your place clean, despite the thromde deploying people to clean the
city and despite words of wisdom from the highest authority, the
capital cityโ€™s residents are not wise enough to take care of the waste
they generate.

Everybody is ready to blame everybody for littering, for damaging
public property, but the problem is we donโ€™t know who is doing it. The
thromde should be strict. They should start installing CCTV in every
area where people openly dump waste. The cost will be recovered from
the fine they collect.
We had enough of awareness, now is the time to pick up the stick!

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