EDITORIAL: Project doldrums

Many of the instructions are simply ignored; most of the rest are implemented half-heartedly, leading to their very slow pace

The Parliamentary Development Committee has been right in blaming government authorities for their lack of efficiency, opportunism and conflict of interests regarding the very slow progress of development projects, as well as for their indifference to the serious concerns expressed by the House committee over the problems afflicting the development projects, such as personal interests and lack of coordination.

The House panel regrets that most of its reports and instructions have been neglected. Rabindra Adhikari, the committee chairman, spoke of this sad state of affairs at a press conference organized this week.

Fed up with the utter neglect by the government officials, the committee is reported to be preparing a report, expected to be completed within two weeks, on the status of the committee’s instructions issued to the various government agencies, and it also intends to hold discussions in a full House on the issue and seek answers from the Prime Minister and ministers as per the parliamentary regulations.

There are problems galore regarding the implementation of the development projects, and the above-mentioned reasons, including lack of coordination, are prominent among them.

Adhikari cited the case of awarding the contract for the Rasuwagadi-Kathmandu-Lumbini railway project without doing other basic work, i.e. clearing the project implementation site such as requisition of land.

This has led to claims for compensation from the contractor as work could not go ahead. Indeed, such tactics are employed by the authorities for hindering development work to serve their vested interests.

As a matter of fact, officials in Nepal tend to work enthusiastically going the extra mile only when the work tends to benefit them personally, in the form of money, favours, foreign tours, lucrative postings, and so on, as well as heavy pressure from powerful quarters.

Many of the instructions are simply ignored; most of the rest are implemented half-heartedly, leading to their very slow pace; and those carried out with some reasonable degree of swiftness, if any, are exceptions.

The authorities are also known to subvert the progress of the development work under various pretexts to serve their vested interests.

But the saddest part of it all is the failure to hold those officials and contractors accountable and take appropriate punitive action against them. Those guilty should also be exposed, blacklisting them when it comes to awarding contracts or giving them any reward in the future.

Sometimes, the government has been known even to blacklist non-existent firms in order to save the real culprits. Sometimes development projects may suffer from negligence and structural weaknesses, such as delayed release of the budget, but often development work becomes the victim of bad intent, including conflicts of interest.

The Prime Minister and ministers, past and present, have tended to issue instructions without caring to follow up on their implementation, and saying what should be done than doing the thing itself when they are in positions of power.

This is one of the ironies of Nepali governance which is strong on precept and very weak on practice.

Repair solar lights

Almost all the solar lights installed recently in the town areas of the Triyuga Municipality in Udayapur have stopped working for want of timely repairs and maintenance.

The municipality had installed as many as 60 such solar lights in the busy areas of the municipality spending millions of rupees. It has been almost one month since they were installed as a drive to promote renewable energy for lighting the streets.

But they have stopped functioning. Traffic police said that many road accidents had occurred due to the malfunctioning of the street lights powered by solar panels.

This is not an isolated case. Many solar-powered street lights and even the traffic lights installed with Japanese assistance in the Kathmandu Valley have also gone dysfunctional.

It speaks volumes about how inefficient and irresponsible our institutions are. The solar panels and their batteries require timely maintenance and repairs to make them functional all the time.

Those solar-powered street lights were brought into operation with foreign assistance.

The Triyuga Municipality must own up responsibility for making them functional by utilizing its local resources. It cannot escape from its duty.