KATHMANDU, June 5: Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli allegedly stepped in to pick the new head of Department of Roads (DoR).
Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth has appointed Rabindra Nath Shrestha as the director general of DoR, which implements different roads and bridge projects across the country, as asked by the Prime Minister, officials of DoR say.
As per the existing rule, minister has the authority to select head of DoR. But PM Oli intervened in the appointment process, considering the importance of implementing infrastructure projects like roads and bridges for socio-economic development of the country and also to stop corruption associated with such appointments, the sources further added.
Shrestha's appointment, however, has not courted any controversy as he is the senior-most engineer and joint secretary at the ministry. He assumed office on Sunday.
A construction entrepreneur, who is also an executive member of Federation of Contractor's Association of Nepal, said that there was not any irregularity in Shrestha's appointment. “I am hopeful of seeing some positive changes in DoR,” he added.
The process to appoint head of the DoR has courted controversy in the past years. Appointments used to be made by bribing politicians. Such acts, in turn, would affect procurement process.
Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) is the largest budget implementing agency in the country, getting about Rs 100 billion ever year. A lion's share of this allocation goes to DoR.
A joint secretary with MoPI told Republica that Minister Mahaseth made no objection to the Prime Minister's choice for the post.
Mahaseth has drawn courted controversy by backing the cartel in public transportation as well as allowing larger buses and cargo vehicles to ply the single-lane BP Highway, while doing nothing to administer civil contactors who are not performing as per the contract agreements. He was also criticized for transferring the Director General of Department of Transport Management Rup Narayan Bhattarai soon after ending transporters' cartel in the first week of May.
While Mahaseth is doing nothing to take action against non-performing contractors, Minister for Home Affairs has threatened to take action against construction entrepreneurs who are not working as per the contract document.