Kathmandu’s mayor and his failed promises

Jun 24, 2019-

When Kathmandu Metropolitan City got its first elected mayor in 15 years, the excitement was palpable and hopes were high. Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya’s promise to accomplish 101 tasks in his first 100 days in office made many hope for a ‘clean and green livable city’. His assurances of ensuring the reconstruction of the iconic 18th-century monument Dharahara made it look like Shakya was going to leave no stone unturned to give Kathmandu a much-needed facelift. Promises galore. But it seems that Shakya’s campaign promises were filled with rhetoric that was not meant to be actualised.

Last year, for instance, the Metropolitan had separated Rs50 million for street lights. The project, called Bright Kathmandu, was a bright idea--but remained so only on paper. Similarly, through the programmes and policies that the government launches annually before presenting the budgets, plans to build sky bridges in Tripureshwor, Kalimati, Thapathali, and Maitighar were approved. A sizable budget of Rs120 million was earmarked for the same. But citing reasons of inadequate technical study and lack of discussion, Kathmandu Metropolitan City took a step back and the project never really took off.

There are many other examples where ideas germinate but fail to take shape or never get completed. In Kathmandu, the potholes and dangerous open drainages on the road are still a common feature, stray animals roam freely causing traffic nuisance and accidents, and of course, there aren’t enough public toilets. The mayor promised smart toilets but it's important first to have toilets that function properly; where sanitation and running water are prioritised. What’s more, Shakya again promised to make KMC’s service transparent and accessible to the public, to control pollution, to expand health service, to preserve historical monuments, to solve parking problems and to solve the water crisis.

Clearly, Shakya bit off more than he could chew, and Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s indifference in addressing everyday problems faced by the people has made the citizens of Kathmandu critical about its activities and inactivities. In many cases, the projects have been identified and the money required has been estimated. However, ultimately, the concerned authorities have either failed to implement the required budget on time or have failed to raise the required revenue.

Urban parks, efficient public transport, well-lit streets, and easy access to clean, well-functioning public toilets move a city up the livability ladder. Shakya made tall promises to the public. He needs to recall them and deliver on his promises before his tenure is over.

Published: 25-06-2019 07:00

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