RSTA’s Iron Horses to Help Monitor Traffic

RSTA will procure 13 Royal Enfield 500ccs’ to monitor and meet the demand of ever-growing vehicle numbers and accidents

KARMA CHIMI | Thimphu

To monitor and meet the demand of ever-growing vehicle numbers and accidents, the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) will buy 13 Royal Enfield 500ccs’ with an approved budget of Nu 2.73-million.

The procurement of the fleet of iron horses was approved by the cabinet in December 2021 following the old batch of two-wheelers being surrendered as it was rendered obsolete. 

Information and communications minister Karma Donnen Wangdi said the RSTA has surrendered 13 two-wheelers and four-light vehicles which are off-road and beyond repair and maintenance. “Most of these were procured and registered between 2007 and 2008,” he said.

“RSTA is mandated to ensure access to safe, sustainable, and inclusive transport systems for accelerated socio-economic development,” he said. “We are trying to achieve a ‘safety-first’ policy through the three pillars of safer roads, safer vehicles, and safer road-users, in collaboration with other stakeholders.”

Our motor vehicle inspectors (MVI) conduct regular inspections to enhance compliance to road safety rules and regulations, including strengthening the safety of vulnerable road users such as two-wheelers, cyclists, and pedestrians in collaboration with traffic police,” Lyonpo added.

In addition, Lyonpo said RSTA and traffic police conduct both mandatory and random inspections for the safety of public transports at terminals and monitoring of the behaviors of drivers on highways.

“Besides the inspections of vehicle safety, RSTA deploys officials on highways to monitor roadblocks, clearance and ensure a smooth flow of traffic at such locations,” he said, adding the ministry is also observing a substantial number of motor vehicle accidents (MVA).

However, some even say that given the current government’s pledges to go for more electric vehicles and also the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) as a parent agency to implement the project, the ministry should opt for electric scooters rather than Royal Enfield.

On this front, Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi said that the electric scooters are not the best fit given the nature of the work of the MVIs. “MVIs are field staffs who need to commute through all types of road conditions, given our topography,” he said.

When asked how the ministry ensures the bikes are utilized optimistically for the official purpose to prevent misuse of government vehicles, Lyonpo said, his ministry is “very particular about the usage of government vehicles.”

He added strategies are already in place to ensure the vehicles are not misused. “For instance, in the last quarterly coordination meeting of the ministry, one of the decisions was reaffirming that unless the vehicles are “dedicated vehicles” for executives, all other vehicles need to be used for official purposes only and kept in the office premises,” he added.

“Similarly, for these 13 two-wheelers, the ministry has instructed RSTA to ensure that they are monitored properly and used only for the purposes they are procured for,” Lyonpo said.

Meanwhile, the number of vehicles in the country has risen from 53,382 vehicles in 2010 to about 118,764 as of November 2021.

In 2005, RSTA recorded 1,260 MVA and 811 in 2020. As of September end 2021, it has recorded 549 MVAs. “Therefore, this entails a lot of mobility for our Motor Vehicle Inspectors (MVIs),” Lyonpo said.

RSTA has 22 base offices and five regional offices covering 19 dzongkhags with 66 MVIs. 

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