There could be two explanations for someone spending double the amount that he should, on a particular product either the product is needed with desperate urgency, or there is a hidden, corrupt agenda, with siphoning of funds involved at some level.
The exposé in mid-day’s front page report yesterday, which said that BMC has been spending nearly R12,000 to temporarily repair a pothole, where it takes only R7,000 to construct a square metre of cement concrete road, leaves very little doubt as to which of the two explanations is applicable in this case.
The report exposes the sham that road repairs have become in the city, and the corrupt nexus between bureaucrats, contractors and politicians.
So far, the BMC has successfully evaded answering that one question that it is asked every year: why is it not taking action against contractors responsible for bad roads? Even when you buy a phone, the guarantee and warranty period of the product is checked, but the BMC doesn’t believe in such practices. They spend huge amounts of public money on road repairs, which come with no guarantee or warranty.
There is a complete absence of a chain of accountability, making contractors answerable to the BMC, and the BMC answerable to citizens.
All the road repair work was shifted to ward level earlier this year, and the explanation offered was that the repair work would be more concentrated, and speedy. A quick look at the roads even after scattered showers will prove beyond doubt that this plan has all but failed. Nor has the hike in the budget for road repair been of any help.
At the crux of this issue lies the BMC’s reluctance to demand answers from those that it pays, generously, from the common man’s tax money.
With no closure on the matter, and no solution in sight, it is time for the BMC to demand for the privatisation of road repair work, and inject some competition into this bleak picture.