EDITORIAL: Boost security

The coordinated bomb attacks and vandalism of Ncell towers point to the weak security situation in the country

Given the spate of bomb attacks and vandalism targetting communication service provider Ncell over the last few days, the government must act swiftly to provide security to the company and see to it that it does not suffer any more mindless destruction. The attacks carried out in different parts of the country have not only damaged communications equipment and property belonging to Ncell but also claimed the life one commoner, Singha Prasad Gurung, 49. Gurung, an ex-Singaporean Police officer, happened to be shopping around the Ncell office at Nakkhu, in Lalitpur, on Friday when the improvised explosive device went off at 8 in the evening. Two other women were also injured in the incident. Police have arrested about two dozen people, who include some cadres of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Nepal Communist Party. Addressing the parliamentary State Affairs Committee on Sunday, Home Minister Ram BahadurThapa pinpointed that the Chand-led party was behind the coordinated explosions and vandalism.

Initially, the Nakkhu explosion on Friday seemed like an isolated incident, but now the destruction being caused to Ncell’s basic transmission stations in different parts of the country is seen as a concerted attempt to cause wilful damage by some group. Apart from the attack on the Ncell office at Nakkhu in Lalitpur, its towers have been vandalised and set on fire in Kaski (Pokhara), Myagdi, Baglung, Kanchanpur, Accham, Nuwakot, east Nawalparasi and Kapilvastu. Due to the destruction to the transmission towers, telephony and internet services have been disrupted, affecting life especially in the rural areas of those districts. Only an organisation with a country-wide network of cadres could have carried out such an operation over two days on such a scale. Hence, the police suspect the hand of the Chand-led party behind the series of attacks.  Although no one has claimed responsibility, a pamphlet that was found in Kanchanpur in far west Nepal threatens to carry out more of such attacks should Ncell refuse to pay Rs 70 billion in taxes owed to the government. But whoever is behind the attacks has no business intimidating Ncellinto clearing the taxes. Collecting taxes is the duty of the government, and no third party should take the law into its hands.

The bomb attacks and vandalism point to the weak security situation in the country, and coming as they do on the eve of the investment summit in the capital, they send a very bad message to the potential investors and the international community at large. Good infrastructure, a disciplined workforce and security are the pre-requisites for drawing foreign direct investment. If these acts of terror are meant to scare away investors, then we can expect more of them as the investment summit nears. The government must act strongly and swiftly to punish the miscreants severely so that anyone will think twice before embarking on a similar mission in the future. The impunity enjoyed by the strong, especially the political forces, for too long has led to a breakdown of law and order in the country. The government should show no mercy this time and nip the destructive elements in the bud. Otherwise, it is Ncell today, it could be some other business house tomorrow.

Adjustment woes

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) is still struggling to adjust all employees in the three tiers of government. It had planned to adjust all the employees by mid-February. It has now said it would take another two weeks to fully adjust them at the local and provincial levels. The day-to-day functioning of the local and provincial governments has been affected by a shortage of government staffers. A total of 77,000 out of 89,000 employees had applied for the adjustment through the online application system.

MoFAGA said that around 25,000 personnel of the health sector remains to be adjusted. They will be adjusted within the next two weeks. The ministry found it difficult to update data of all the civil servants due to their recent promotion or transfer. The largest number of 66,750 staffers is required to run all the 753 local levels. The three tiers of government are expected to start functioning in line with the federal structure once all the staffers report to their duties. Adjustment of the centralised staffers was one of the major hurdles. It took more than one year for the federal government to overcome this problem.