Mega-projects, mega-corruption, mega-greed
In a capital where traffic remains the most pressing concern for an overwhelming majority of dwellers, the only thing the government agencies seem interested in is wasting – or rather, consuming – public money on ill-conceived projects. According to a report by this daily, government agencies have undertaken eight different projects in and around the capital, ignoring the Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP) and without consulting each other. For instance, the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) has already spent Tk 321 crore in conducting a feasibility study and preliminary design for a 258km subway network in the capital and adjacent areas, while another government agency is already implementing a plan for six metro rail lines about 140km long.
More inconceivable still is that five of these projects have been initiated along a single alignment, with different agencies proposing and implementing their own agendas, without any coordination or consideration as to how these projects will work in tandem, or whether they will ease public suffering at all. The agencies did not even bother to consult with the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), which is responsible for coordinating transport-related projects in Dhaka and five surrounding districts, and is currently reviewing and updating the RSTP. As a result, it is only likely that most of these projects will end up in the bin and, in the process, crores of taxpayers' money will be wasted without anyone having to answer for them.
The mega-projects, now synonymous with mega-corruption, seem to have whetted the mega-appetite of our government officials, so much so that repeated calls for austerity, from the prime minister no less, are being left unheeded.
But how can this be the state of development work in the country, particularly at a time when we are repeatedly told that Bangladesh's economy is bleeding profusely and that we all need to practice austerity? How can flyovers be built only to be broken? How can feasibility studies be conducted and designs finalised only for the project to be scrapped a few years later? How can such ludicrous projects be funded with the limited amount of taxpayers' money that should be going into social safety net programmes, health, and education?
It appears that the civil servants invested in these projects only care about them in so far as they are a means for them to earn some major bucks. The mega-projects, now synonymous with mega-corruption, seem to have whetted the mega-appetite of our government officials, so much so that repeated calls for austerity, from the prime minister no less, are being left unheeded. The question now is, will the PM – and the government at large – continue to allow such ruthless and reckless plundering of public resources at such a critical juncture, when the country and its people are suffering so acutely?
We demand accountability from the respective agencies and the government for these wasteful projects. It is downright disrespectful to the people of this country that their hard-earned money is being looted by those whose job it is to ease their suffering and ensure their best interests.