Tuesday, July 16, 2024

MDA Govt should prioritise roads


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Roads are the lifeline of any state. Without a good road communication network a state cannot expect its economy to grow exponentially. Roads affect the health of the citizenry adversely as it takes longer for people in Meghalaya’s rural areas to reach the healthcare institutions. Roads are the arteries through which the economy pulsates. They link the farmers to the markets; the students to their schools; the workers to their jobs and the sick to hospitals. It would have been intuitive for any government that is astute and wants to retain the goodwill of citizens to concentrate on road making and good roads at that. It was not without reason that when Late PA Sangma was Chief Minister, he brought the Oriental Company – road construction company to construct some of the best roads in Shillong city and the peri-urban areas. Those roads lasted for over a decade and needed no repair work. But Sangma paid the price for addressing a crucial backlog in Meghalaya – its roads. He lost his job after a two-year tenure because the contractor lobby revolted against the idea of an outside company taking away their profits.
But at this point in time when all the roads are in shambles – broken and exposed, do people have the courage to take on the contractor class in Meghalaya? People forget that money for road-making comes from the public exchequer and that every contractor should pass a strict audit of his/her work. People should now demand that an external agency be engaged to audit all the roads in Meghalaya and give its unreserved opinion on why the state of our roads is so decrepit? Too much money has gone into the pockets of engineers and politicians especially all those ministers currently holding or who have held the Public Works Department (PWD) portfolio.
A Government that cares for its citizens would make a list of the strategic roads that link people to important junctions. For instance the Umroi bypass is currently being expanded and in a mess due to the rains. This expansion work should have been undertaken during the dry months between November to March, more so when the Umiam Bridge is under repair and people need to use alternative routes to reach the airports and railway stations. The so-called VIP Road from Mawlai to Umroi airport which is now being extensively used is also in an appalling shape. This road too should have been repaired and made road-worthy before taking up the repairs of the Umiam Bridge. It just shows that this Government is trundling along unthinkingly. Fact is that VIPs who are paid to think cannot figure out some of these basic problems because they don’t have to wait for hours to cross the Umiam Bridge. They are after all the privileged class and it’s the people who have accorded them that privilege. It is time for people to strip the VIPs of their privileges and give them a taste of their own medicine.

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