The Bold Message from Birgunj

Published On: April 5, 2023 07:38 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Birgunj Metropolitan City (BMC) held a very important symbolic protest on Tuesday. BMC officials dumped the city’s garbage on the premises of the regional office of Nepal Telecom (NT) for the authorities’ failure to repair roads and footpaths dug up by NT to lay underground optical fiber in the metropolis. While one could always debate on the appropriateness of the symbolic protest by BMC, it was a powerful statement against the negligence of NT in repairing the roads and footpaths that were dug up to lay underground telecommunication cables.

However, this protest is just the tip of the iceberg, highlighting a much larger problem in our country - the lack of coordination among key government bodies responsible for infrastructure development and service delivery. It's a common sight in our cities and urban centers to witness the Department of Road completing the blacktopping of a road, only for another government entity to dig it up shortly after to lay underground electrical wires, optical fibers for telecommunication purposes, or lay or repair drinking water pipelines or sewers. The lack of coordination among these entities has resulted in the waste of scarce resources, time, and effort, leaving our cities in a perpetual state of disarray.

The case of Birgunj is not an isolated incident but a clear example of a more significant issue at hand. The citizens of the city had to suffer for months due to NT’s negligence in repairing the roads and footpaths dug up during the laying of optical fiber. This caused them significant inconvenience, loss of time, and financial loss due to damaged vehicles. Unfortunately, this issue is not limited to Birgunj alone. Similar instances of lack of coordination and delayed repairs can be witnessed in various parts of the country, including the capital Kathmandu. The citizens of our country face such issues regularly that not only causes inconvenience but also results in a waste of valuable resources.

It is disappointing that even after a meeting held on February 15 in the presence of the Chief District Officer, where it was agreed in writing that the roads and footpaths dug up by the NT would be repaired by mid-March, no action was taken. The BMC was left with no other option but to stage a symbolic protest by piling garbage on the premises of the regional office of NT. This move by the metropolis sends a strong message to the authorities concerned that they need to take their responsibilities seriously and fulfill their promises.

The lack of coordination among government bodies responsible for infrastructure development and service delivery is not just a matter of inconvenience but a significant drain on the country’s economy. The constant digging-up and repairing of roads and footpaths result in wastage of time, effort, and resources. The country’s scarce resources could have been better utilized to improve the living standards of the people of the country by investing in more significant infrastructure projects that would benefit the population as a whole. Moreover, the constant disruption in transport services, business operations, and pedestrian movement results in financial losses for the country's businesses and individuals.

Therefore, it is crucial that the government takes immediate measures to ensure coordination among the different government bodies responsible for infrastructure development and service delivery. There should be a well-defined protocol for laying underground electrical wires, optical fibers, and other necessary infrastructure to avoid repeated digging up of roads and footpaths. The protocol should take into account the concerns of all the concerned bodies and stakeholders and ensure minimum disruption to the daily lives of citizens.

Moreover, the government needs to prioritize timely repairs of roads and footpaths dug up during infrastructure development. The government bodies concerned should be held accountable for their action and should face legal consequences for inaction or negligence. The government needs to invest in capacity building and ensure that there are enough resources to ensure timely and efficient repairs of infrastructure.

The message from Birgunj is loud and clear. The symbolic protest by the BMC highlights a much bigger problem. The government needs to take immediate action to ensure timely and efficient infrastructure development and repairs while minimizing inconvenience to the citizens. The government must prioritize the improvement of infrastructure and ensure coordination among the different concerned bodies to avoid waste of scarce resources and financial losses. Nepal cannot afford to waste its scarce resources. Therefore, it is high time that the government took the necessary steps to address this long-standing problem and improve the lives of its citizens.

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