Government policy makers are bragging about providing urban amenities in rural areas. But the dismal picture of rural roads shows a gap between their words and actions.
According to Prothom Alo, recently, in two consecutive meetings of the parliamentary committee related to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, at least four members of parliament from the government and opposition parties have expressed concern and agitation over the plight of rural roads. A member of parliament (MP) said that MPs are being slammed due to damaged road in their constituencies. The lawmakers have urged the ministry to repair the roads before the monsoon. The question remains whether their delayed concern, ire and urge will play any role in the development of rural roads.
There are total 10 members in that committee including local government minister, state minister. Lawmakers, who raised questions about the quality of rural roads, visited their constituencies and found some roads in poor condition. Sources of the parliamentary committee related to the local government ministry said that the meeting of the parliamentary committee held on 30 January and 30 March discussed the roads under LGED. The parliamentary committee meeting held on 3 May approved the minutes of the 30 March meeting.
The Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) is responsible for all the roads in upazila and union level in the country. They told the parliamentary committee that Tk 90 billion is needed for the repair of rural roads of which only Tk 40 billion was collected. That is why, the agency issued work order for roads in the upazila level first and the road in union parishad level will be done later. The work slowed down due to growing price of construction materials after 75 per cent of the works have been completed.
Roads under LGED are divided into three categories namely good, fair and critical. LGED often allocates fund to renovate relatively good roads due to political influence. But they do not allocate funds for critical roads. Again, many roads return to the previous dire condition within a few days after repair.
An opposition MP denied the minutes of his speech given in the previous meeting. Lawmakers should at least have the courage to speak the truth, otherwise how will they hold the executive division accountable? Some MPs feel embarrassed if rural roads are in bad condition. But what about the embarrassment the residents of the concerned area face due to bad condition roads?
It is natural that most of the roads will remain out of repair work if only Tk 40 billion is allocated where Tk 90 billion is needed. The problem is that most of our representatives do not live in their constituencies. If the public representatives live in their respective areas, they would have realised the necessity to take steps to solve any problems including repairing rural roads.
If the roads are not repaired before the monsoon, those will be completely broken. In this situation, the allocation of the unnecessary sector should be reduced and the allocation should be increased in the most necessary sector. The people of the area would have felt at least relieved if the members of parliament had spoken out about the rural roads earlier rather than in the eleventh hour of their term.