Poor administration erodes confidence
IF what is happening is any indication, governance at all levels of administration seems to be flawed. With AL in the seat of power, the electorate was yearning for stable governance—a factor seemingly missing long since.
Stability requires a degree of rectitude, coherence, policy pattern, determination, courage, capacity to make intellectual guesses and an attitude to stand firm in the face of all odds.
The weakening moral standard and authority of politicians only increases the arbitrary power and recklessness of officials at different tiers of administration. People feel all this has led to a situation where bureaucrats are either indifferent or shying away from their administrative responsibilities.
Public employees demand pay-offs for each work required to be done, even for moving a file from one table to the other. Water, gas, electricity, land registration, income tax and city corporation tax assessment, train and bus tickets on Eid rush can all be had but for a small price. Shocking lapses of the agencies concerned and unforgivable bad governance now see Bangladesh sliding into a distress zone.
Reports have it that three weeks after the two-storey tin-shed structure in the marshland near Matir Masjid at Malbagh caved in and collapsed, causing 12 deaths instantly, some greedy people close to the Jubo League leader Moniruzzaman, now in police remand, gathered enough strength to build new structures in the marshland near the disaster area.
Ominously, all the sectors we look around are redolent with the stench of corruption. In the human trafficking racket in Malaysia en route to Thailand, a newspaper report published on May 5 revealed that traffickers engaged in this clandestine trade enjoy the blessings and patronage of a section of the powerful. And that's the reason they can run their trade uninterrupted, evading police arrest.
Our country seems to have different laws for different people, and that's why the judiciary was compelled to step in where our leaders or bureaucracy feared to tread. The only solace is that, delays and expenses notwithstanding, the judiciary continues to be vibrant and energetic, something reflected in the recent Supreme Court judgment allowing prosecution of four doctors in Shariatpur for giving false autopsy report on a Shariatpur rape victim who succumbed to her injuries after being lashed 50 times upon a fatwa in 2011.
What strikes most is that many of these people either in public offices or outside escape punishment due to some lacunae in the law itself or political interference or a flawed legal process or manipulation in evidence. The big loan fraud in Sonali Bank and Basic Bank, in collusion with the high officials and directors in these banks, points to simply poor governance in the financial sector. It seems, some of our so-called prominent businessmen have sworn themselves to unbridled corruption, scam, defiance of rules and irresponsibility.
An elected government unlike an authoritarian ruler has only five years time to cleanse, relocate, and adjust structural reforms. Once they resort to dithering or they are accused of narrow vision and ethical flexibility, it will cost them heavily in terms of diminishing popularity, increasing public disgust and future election debacle.
Let us try to see how administrative paralysis, apathy, dithering and bureaucratic high-handedness have disrupted development works in the country. Even after Ecnec approved the recovery project of the Uttara Lake in May 2014 costing Tk 38 crore, Rajuk didn't take up the work during the last one year for reasons best known to them. Now because of persistent public pressure when they want to start the work by stopping discharge of polluted water into the lake, they can't proceed because DCC will not accord permission to Rajuk for the road cutting needed for reversing the discharge to the nearest storm sewer built by WASA unless they have deposited money as per DCC estimate.
This they are doing in spite of the fact that Rajuk has given DCC a written undertaking that they will repair the damage and restore the road to its previous condition with their own resources. We are inclined to believe that Rajuk has the resources, manpower and even contractors ready at their disposal to undertake the work. Files and notes fly from Rajuk to Nagar Bhaban (North) at Gulshan to DCC office at Uttara but with no positive result. The development project initiated at the directive of the Prime Minister's Office in 2011 is now in a limbo. If this 3.5km long and 200m wide lake could be restored to its past state with consequent recharging of ground water, as proposed in the DPP, it could be a vast source of fresh surface water for the people in this area.
The writer is a columnist of The Daily Star.
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