EDITORIAL: Corrupt bodies

Unless there is a system under which anybody indulging in corruption of any kind faces stern action without mercy, any talk of fighting corruption is fake

Most public bodies should be flayed for poor services they are providing. After all, the general public deserve a better deal as the civil servants are paid salaries from the taxpayers.

The public bodies are supposed to serve the citizens in a manner which is simple, easy and effective as well. But this is not the case most often. When the public want their work done they have to face hassles as a result of which they often have to pay hefty amounts on the sly to the concerned bureaucrats or their subordinates in order to have their work expedited.

Such crimes are being carried out clandestinely, and in a number of cases fairly openly, in many government offices like the Land Revenue Office, Survey Office and even the District Administration Office assigned with the task of cracking down on all corrupt practices.

Corruption seems to have spread its tentacles in virtually all public bodies.

Corrupt practices are taking place also through the infiltration of brokers and other middlemen seen in the government offices. This is glaringly clear from the Annual Report on Customer Satisfaction Survey, 2017 that was carried out by the Ministry of General Administration.

Customer satisfaction is regarded as one of the major pointers of the services provided which the customers expect and get. It is hardly surprising that the bulk of service seekers have bitter experiences. The survey brought out this sordid practice in the 20 busiest government offices in the capital to measure the level of customer satisfaction.

During the survey, 217 service seekers, including 139 in Kathmandu, 68 in Lalitpur and 10 in Bhaktapur, were interviewed. They were asked to rate the performance of the public bodies. A majority of them did not know about the functions of the concerned offices, and 20 said they had no idea about it.

But, 38 persons had grievances saying they had been denied the services.

Most service seekers want their work done within the stipulated period without going through any hassles and without having to pay anything under the table. But this is not often the case. However, this is where the brokers and middlemen break in, and they get the work done by overcharging the clients.

The government employees, therefore, are seen exploiting the clients and using illegal channels to make a huge amount of money. As the public are not satisfied with the government services, there is the need for radical reforms to prevent all corrupt practices and also dillydallying in which the government employees are often involved.

In another context, most of the public health institutes are understaffed hitting hard the service seekers. Those who are most affected are mainly the elderly and the disabled. Corruption is also due to many government employees who want to work in places where they can mint money through corrupt practices, with political clout.

It is high time that corruption was strongly combated as the situation has gone from bad to worse and the people no longer trust the public bodies.

Unless there is a system under which anybody indulging in corruption of any kind faces stern action without mercy, any talk of fighting corruption is fake.

  Traffic chaos 

Traffic jam has become a commonplace in the Kathmandu Valley where more than 800,000 vehicles ply on around 1,500 kilometres of roads always in bad shape due to construction works carried out by one or the other government agencies.

It is the traffic police numbering 1,450 who have to manage the chaotic traffic due to absence of traffic lights and haphazard construction. Whatever the traffic lights were built in the past, mostly run by solar power, have become dysfunctional as the concerned agencies have not been able to replace old batteries or clean up the panels covered with dust blocking the entry of sunlight into the panels.

It is not easy to manage such a large number of vehicles in the narrow streets without having the traffic lights in place.

The dysfunctional traffic lights must be made functional without delay to ensure smooth vehicular movement and to give some respite to the traffic police who are always seen covered with dust and smoke belched by the not-so-maintained vehicles.

About half of the problem faced by the traffic police and road users can be reduced provided that the government installs traffic lights in all areas with a provision of timely repairs and maintenance.