Promises Go Down The Pan

Uttam Maharjan

It has been over 100 days since Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya assumed office. While in the hustings, he pledged to fulfill a whopping 101 commitments in 100 days. When he was sworn in as Mayor of Kathmandu, he proudly announced that his work towards fulfilling his commitments had begun from the day of his swearing-in. One of the commitments was an increase in elderly allowances to senior citizens, which was fulfilled in no time. But other commitments have remained on paper only.

Big talk
The election manifesto talked about big things. The Mayor even said pigeon-heartedly that he would make Kathmandu one of the best cities in the world. The deadline for fulfilling all these commitments has already expired but the problems of the Kathmandu city are as they were before the local elections. It would be germane to note that no citizen urged the Mayor to fulfill these works; it was the Mayor himself who took upon himself the task of accomplishing these works to present Kathmandu as a model city before the world community.
The Kathmandu city is not only the capital of the country but also a hub of all activities: business, education, healthcare and what you have. In a sense, there is Kathmandu-centric development, which has left other districts in the cold. Every year, umpteen people tend to migrate to Kathmandu in search of their bright future. This has added to woes of the denizens of Kathmandu. As a result, Kathmandu is bursting at the seams as far as myriad problems ranging from clean drinking water, garbage disposal and sanitation to healthcare, education and transportation are concerned. These are the problems that have been handed down from generation to generation, to speak the least.
So there are many challenges to grapple with in Kathmandu. Against such a background, the Mayor has assumed the mantle of the city with pledges to not only solve the problems but also to make the city one of the excellent cities in the world, that too in 100 days. The Mayor has not been able to work as per the commitments set forth in the election manifesto.
There are some people who argue that accomplishing all these works is not possible in 100 days. They are right. But the Mayor has shown big dreams to the Kathmanduites. Operating trams, monorails and metro rails in the capital city in order to steer clear of traffic congestion has hit a setback. What is deplorable is that not even the feasibility study has been embarked upon till now.
Operating monorails and metro rails is not an easy proposition. Even trams have not been brought into operation. It is clear that such modes of transportation will not be a reality even in five years. The Mayor may also be well aware of this fact. Even the feasibility study takes a lot of time. So it will not possible to introduce monorails and metro rails in one or two years.
The list of commitments set forth in the election manifesto of the Mayor is not the one the people dictated to him. He himself prepared it and also pledged to fulfill each commitment in 100 days. Some supporters of the Mayor opine that the people should not expect them to be fulfilled in so short a span of time. But nobody urged the Mayor to fulfill them. He himself promised to fulfill them.
The Kathmandu city does not need ambitious plans right now. What they need is a simple solution to the myriad problems they have been facing for decades. In the past, it was easy to blame the bureaucratic mechanism for all the anomalies seen in the local bodies. Now the local elections have been completed except in Province 2 and people’s representatives have also assumed their duties. It was also argued in the past that due to the government employees having no knowledge of local conditions, the local governments could not flourish. Now the local bodies have been manned by people’s representatives but their working style is not different from that of their predecessors. The people have not felt any appreciable differences.
However, the Mayor claims rather ludicrously that he has fulfilled, or is in the process of fulfilling 86 of the commitments. He asserts that the footpaths of the city have been systematized. He also proudly announces that the city has been a ‘mask-free’ city.
As a matter of fact, it is imprudent to expect a sea change in 100 days. Such a change will not come about even at the end of the tenure of the Mayor. But what should be kept in mind is that ambitious plans cannot work wonders. It is said that ambition often overleaps itself. So it would be prudent on the part of people’s representatives to promise only those things that they can do. In other words, they should show their stuff. Presenting plans that may take a long time to come into fruition as if they could be done in a twinkling of an eye will not do the job.
The bitter fact is that it will take a long time to develop Kathmandu as a model city. Some leaders are also talking about developing smart cities. At a time when metropolises, sub-metropolises and municipalities have not been able to function as such, the government is in a hurry to upgrade more and cities and towns. So the need of the hour is to develop adequate infrastructure to enable Kathmandu to function as a metropolis first. Developing the city as smart city is a distant dream at least for now.

Melting pot
The Mayor has five years’ tenure to work. It was a boner to pledge to accomplish 101 works in 100 days. Kathmandu is a melting pot where an inflow of people from all over the country is constantly creating one after another problem. It is a place which cannot be declared even an open defecation-free zone when some other parts of the country have been declared as such. It would, therefore, be prudent on the part of people’s representatives to cut their coat according to their cloth when it comes to making pledges before the people.


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