July 27, 2018 07:26 AM NPT
By: DIYA DHAKAL
KATHMANDU, July 27: On the eve of the local elections last year, Kathmandu Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya proclaimed in a famous Twitter post that he would ‘make Kathmandu the best city of the world’ within the first hundred days of his tenure if elected to the office.
Fourteen months on, Shakya seems to have forgotten those election promises.
With mayor Shakya and his team failing to deliver on those election promises, Kathmandu, one of the poorly managed cities in the world, continues to face the most basic problems regarding waste management and disposal, proper drainage systems, traffic congestion, adequate water supply, road management among so many other issues.
If things remain as they are, Kathmandu might have to struggle with the same problems for decades to come.
The enthusiasm with which Kathmanduties voted Shakya and his panel to power has transformed into widespread frustration.
Valley residents are far from hesitant in expressing their disappointment and even anger.
Forty-six year old Amrika Paudel, a local of the of Kathmandu valley said that mayor had grossly failed to deliver on his poll promises.
She expressed anger over the way KMC was handling the construction of roads in Budhanilakantha. “On sunny days, it is difficult to walk because of the dust. On rainy days, we can’t walk because roads are too slippery and muddy,” Paudel said.
Terrible roads in the valley have caused extreme traffic congestion as potholes fill most of the valley’s major highways. Eighty-year-old Keshav Raj Dhakal says that travelling through roads is nothing short of a major headache for him as water floods through the roads, reaching up to two feet at places. “Travelling from Tripureshwar to Hanumanthan took me over half an hour on Tuesday because of rain,” Dhakal said.
Bharat Lal Shrestha, executive committee member of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), however, blamed the Melamchi Drinking Water Project for the current condition of Kathmandu’s roads. “Melamchi is the main problem, not KMC,” Shrestha, who is also the chairman of Ward 1 of Kathmandu, said, adding “Kathmandu would have been a heaven, had Melamchi worked responsibly”.
But transport isn’t Kathmandu’s only problem. When asked about the current garbage disposal problem in the metropolis, all that Chairman Shrestha was able to say was that “people of Ward 1 are happy under my leadership”, making an indirect reference to the fact that the entire Kathmandu Valley is not his concern.
Despite Republica’s repeated efforts to reach out to him, Mayor Shakya was not available for comment. When asked to comment on the sluggish work pace of her team, Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi declined to respond saying that the 101-point poll promises weren’t her concern.
Eighteen-year-old Srasta Koirala complains about KMC’s haphazard manner of governance. She says that nothing is planned; rules exist but aren’t implemented. A new promise is made every other day, but nothing is delivered in the end. “Kathmandu should have already been the smartest city in the world by now,” Koirala said, sarcastically referring to the mayor’s speech adding, “Sadly, we don’t even have a landfill site at the moment.” Koirala was referring to the valley’s current garbage disposal problem. With the only Landfill site in Sisdol almost full and roads leading to it damaged, and the construction of the alternative site in Banchare Danda halted, there is no place where the valley’s waste can be dumped.
Seventy-seven-year old Hari Lal Shrestha said that rather than making false promises on the most unfeasible things, KMC should be prioritizing on tackling the most basic problems that the valley continues to face even in this age. “No one is willing to take the responsibility. If roads are damaged, is it KMC, Department of Transport Management, or the transportation Minister at fault?,” Shrestha asked.
Mayor Shakya had promised the most elaborate of plans under his list of 101 commitments which he had sworn to accomplish within his first 100 days in office. Among other things, Shakya had promised operating trams and monorails to steer traffic, construct digital and vertical car parking lots under his ‘Smart City Plan’, create an underground wiring system, prioritize heritage construction post earthquake focusing on Rani Pokhari and Kasthamandap among other things. It’s over a year since he was elected. However, as things stand now, it looks like the mayor’s goals won’t be achieved even at the end of his five-year tenure.