The quality of public infrastructure in the country is a growing concern. Look at the roads in the urban centres and they have got a face and narrative of their own. And our highways are scarred with innumerable potholes that make for vastly cumbersome and risky driving.
As things stand, it appears that we do not give quality pride of place in our plans because we do not look at things from the perceptive of long-term benefits for the nation and the people. And so, while we carry on building roads here and bridges there, what we in fact are doing is squandering the precious little resources that we have.
Because we do not so much stress on the quality, we end up building the same stretch of road over and over again as with the same length of bridge many times over. For a country that depends heavily on foreign aid to execute its development programmes, profligacy is the last thing we could engage in; we can ill afford to be extravagant.
We could certainly learn from some of our mistakes. It is high time we did. For example, Ura-Nangar bypass is yet to be handed over to the Department of Roads, but it is already spotty and pockmarked with parts coming off between stretches. And what about the underpasses in Thimphu? Millions of ngultrums were spent in building them only to end up being used as public toilets. It hasn’t been very long since Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu was refurbished to give it a grand and handsome look, but then already the walls are at the verge of coming down.
These are just a few examples of our plans that suffered because quality was not at the front and centre of it all. There is serious need to overhaul the system of awarding contact works. If it takes streamlining procurement and bidding processes for better quality services, so be it.
Infrastructure development is vitally important for nation’s economic success, but we need to give quality pride of place. Otherwise, we would just be wasting huge amount of our limited resources.