EDITORIAL: Criminal negligence

Unless an effective system is set up without legal or administrative loopholes no amount of ministerial or official activity will yield desired results

Most of the problems that the country and its people suffer are mainly questions of ethics and accountability—two things that are in very short supply among our government leaders, politicians, and civil servants. Take the frequent vehicular accidents across the country and the pits and potholes that are common where people, animals and vehicles may fall, causing accidents, injuries and deaths. When these events happen in a way that attracts much public notice and criticism, those in authority resort to issuing directives to their subordinates and soon afterward all these are forgotten. These spurts of activity are short-lived, mainly to minimize public outrage. All this is an ad hoc way of functioning, not of building a system that works effectively whether ministers of any party may come to power, or any government servants may be deputed to provide services to the public.

This kind of ad hocism is manifested almost everywhere in our government work; for example, the recent directives by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to repair the roads of the Valley within two weeks, including filling of the pits and potholes. This happened after several accidents were caused by the pits, potholes, and manholes that had been and are still left open here and there across the valley. Two girls fell into the pits as they could not see them because the big holes were submerged in the torrential rain. Our ministers are seen to be giving instructions every other day for this work or that to be accomplished soon or for this service or that to be provided, or for this thing or that not to be done. This rampant ad hocism also means that the effects of ministerial activism most often turn out to be short-lived. Vehicular accidents are happening in such frequency and landslides are taking their toll in  many places and pits and potholes have become real hazards in so many places that we have lost count of them even considering just the mishaps of the past one month. Saturday’s heart-rending deaths of four girls of a family who fell into a rainwater-covered ditch at Garuda Municipality in Rautahat are just the most recent tragedy of such kind. On the same day, a jeep fell 500 metres below the road in Doti killing nine people.

The government offices and officials and the contractors concerned need to be severely punished for their criminal neglect of duty. But such action is hardly taken against them, which in turn makes them more negligent in the future, to repeat similar crimes. This cycle goes on, as it has for decades. Those in authority must under no circumstances be allowed to go scot-free despite perpetrating crimes, in the form of corruption, or in failing to do their basic duty, invariably when their action or non-action causes hardships or great inconvenience to service-seekers or the general public, or takes human lives or causes a loss to the country financially or otherwise. Unless an effective system is set up without legal or administrative loopholes so that those in positions of authority cannot escape in such circumstances, no amount of ministerial or official activity will yield desired results. It is up to the government and lawmakers to choose exactly what they want.

Monorail plan

A study has shown that monorail is possible in the Kathmandu Valley’s narrow and bending streets. A feasibility study jointly carried out by the National Planning Commission, Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Investment Board Nepal came out with the possibility of operating monorail in the Valley which is one of the most polluted and dirtiest cities in Asia because of heavy concentration of vehicles which emit smoke. The report has said that the monorail can be built within eight to ten years’ period and it is much cheaper than sub-way metro trains which are not feasible in the Valley’s loose soil structure.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the KMC and Cimex Inc on July 18 for the feasibility study of monorail in a ten-km stretch from Tilganga to Kalanki. The study has revealed that the cost of the investment can be recovered in 10 to 12 years and it will be able to carry 15,000 to 30,000 passengers per hour. The monorail is highly useful for narrow streets and bending roads. Besides, the monorail will immensely contribute to reducing pollution, carbon emission, dust particles and maintain beauty of the city as open and left out spaces can be developed as green parks and recreation centres.