Office of the Sunchahari Rural Municipality, Rolpa in this recent picture. Dinesh Subedi/Republica
ROLPA, Feb 28: Local level election after nearly two decades had filled Rolpa residents with great zeal as it did to people in other parts of the country. Marginalized and neglected for decades, they expected positive changes would be seen soon after the local representatives take over reins in their hand. However, even months after the local representatives assumed office, locals feel that there has been no respite. The local office are so inefficient that they still are not able provide documents they are supposed to.
Sunchahari Rural Municipality is one of such remote Rolpa rural municipalities that is struggling to provide minimum facilities to service seekers. While there is mounting pressure from public, officials at the local authority are struggling to provide services in lack of infrastructure and equipments.
“We do not have our own building. We don't even have proper houses around here to rent. This is our first difficulty to start with,” Ash Bahadur Pun, chief of the rural the municipality said. “In lack of office space, we have not been able to bring necessary office equipments too,” he added.
Almost all the ward offices in the Sunchahari Rural Municipality have been facing shortage of office space, staff members, computers, among others.
This rural municipality was a very rural and not connected with rest of the district through a road network until a road track was opened by the GTZ during the conflict era. That 27 kilometers long route paved way for its residents to connect with the rest of the district and nation. Though the road is risky, locals are still grateful for having it.
Even though the dreams were not very vibrant earlier, the elections had given them new wings. “People were very happy to cast their votes and elect their local representatives when the local elections were announced. The excitement was evident in the massive participation seen during the election. We were also quite confident of delivering promises that we made to them on the election campaign trail,” Pun said. “In lack of resources our hands are tied. We are not able to keep our promises. This is not what we expected,” he added.
The rural municipality was formed by merging Gaam, Jelwang, Syuri, Seram, Fagam and Jaimkashala VDCs. These wards are yet to connected via road network and in lack of it the residents have to walk from one to another village for even small tasks.
“The GTZ road was opened during conflict era but since then no new road tracks have been developed for increasing access of roads to other villages. In lack of roads, it is very hard for the people to commute, especially in case of medical or other emergencies,” Pun elaborated.
Pun said that almost all the ward offices in the rural municipality have been facing shortage of office space, staff members, computers, among others. Until and unless such basic things are availed, delivering service to the public is next to impossible, he said.
“So far we have been trying to provide service to the public by working from temporary workplace. Since the space is small, it is necessary for us to find a better working space. But finding a good building to house the rural municipal office is very hard here,” he stated.
Presently five officials run the office: chief administrative officer, accountant, overseer, a non-gazetted officer and a peon. Pun said that the number of officials required for delivering service to the residents of the rural municipality is far lower than they presently have and added that they have not hired staffs in lack of office space.
"People come here seeking services from remote areas. In lack of human resources sometimes, we are not able to provide them. It is not good to disappoint people who come with high hopes, but we cannot help it," Pun stated.
The biggest problem in the rural municipality is the lack of bank. Communication and power facilities are also not fully functional. "We don't have banks, computers, phone lines or other things that are required to operate an office. These make it very difficult to work," Pun said.
There is only one bank only in the district headquarters. To and fro to the bank from the rural municipality takes more than eight hours, Pun lamented. To approve even smallest program or project, banking process has to be followed. This, he claimed, has also hampered the functioning of the rural municipality.
Pun stressed on the need to have a bank in the rural municipality as more important than expanding the road network.
"In the present context, we have been provided with great authorities. We have all the authorities required to develop our place our way. But these authorities came without the facilities and infrastructure that we need," Pun says. He added that giving power but no means to exercise the power is useless. “That makes you unpopular among people,” he noted.
"We keep telling people that we are helpless due to the lack of means, but everyone does not understand that. Sometimes, they vent out anger as if we are not doing things even though it is in our hand," Pun stated.
According to Pun, villages of the rural municipality are deprived of schools, colleges, hospitals, markets and so on. "We need to have all those facilities in our place. If we cannot make those available here, there would be no meaning of holding this position. The center must help us through positive discrimination in allocating budget to us," he said.