People are stealing parts of road crash barriers along the Punakha – Thimphu highway. Several months ago, it was the waste management problem along the same highway. But people are now resorting to stealing public property. Crash barriers are the metal railings installed along the road to prevent vehicles from driving off the road. According to the officials from the Department of Surface Transport’s regional office in Lobesa, more than 600 spacers have been stolen so far.
Road crash barriers are installed using w-beams, spacers and vertical posts. The w-beam rail is joined with the post using spacers in between.
According to officials from the Department of Surface Transport, having spacers in crash barriers will reduce the severity of damage to the vehicles.
The crash barriers were installed along the accident-prone areas.
Although it was installed for good cause, perpetrators have vandalised and stolen the spacers.
Officials said it could be happening for a long time, but they noticed it recently when some of the W-beam rails fell on the ground.
“Stealing was there. I think it was there but only three weeks ago, we found out what they did. Earlier what they used to do was they used to steal it alternatively. So, we did not know whether it was missing or not. But recently, suddenly they took it all at a stretch. Then, we saw that the W-beam had all fallen on the ground,” said Karma Tenzin, the chief engineer of the Department of Surface Transport’s regional office in Lobesa.
He added that the spacers were stolen mostly in Lampelri area and between Toeb Chasa and Lobesa.
Officials said it would incur a loss of around Nu 600,000 to the government.
“It costs Nu 385 per spacer but the person who is taking this one maybe, he is taking it to the scrap dealer and sells it for around Nu 20 only. So, at the most, he will be getting Nu 60 for a spacer, but for the government, the loss is Nu 385. Additionally, we have around three nuts and bolts to combine together. Each costs around Nu 45,” said Karma Tenzin.
The office has already reported the matter to police and the case is under investigation.
Moreover, officials say if any scrap dealers encounter individuals who want to sell spacers, they should report it to the Police.
Meanwhile, officials from the surface transport department’s regional office and the police are jointly conducting night patrolling along the highway these days.
“Just now, what we want to do is we want to catch the culprit. In order to catch the culprit, our department and the police are doing night patrolling. We want to see if we can catch the culprit and if we catch the culprit by chance, then we are going to charge everything, the total loss that we have gone will be charged to that culprit,” added Karma Tenzin, the chief engineer.
Despite the presence of CCTV cameras at some stretches along the highway, the areas where the spacers were stolen did not fall under those stretches.
Officials emphasised that the protection of public property is a shared responsibility.
Changa Dorji, Punakha
Edited by Tshering Zam