Mr Mayor, do something

February 21, 2018 12:07 PM Anjali Subedi

Bidya Sundar Shakya is wasting precious time. If you have occupied highly important position but do not feel obliged to deliver, it’s a crime 

A brother of mine, who is in his early twenties, has a tension. The matter is related to his Chinese girlfriend. To be more precise, it is actually related to Mayor of Kathmandu, he says.

He was in China pursuing a journalism fellowship for the last few months where this relationship developed. She was ‘always very helpful to him’ and ‘she offered him nice trips to some amazing places in her city’. Eager to see him again, the jolly girl recently landed in Kathmandu. This visit would somehow also impact their perception of overall compatibility with each other shaping their future decisions. 

Her experience right at the airport remained horrible. Luggage was not on time. “Other hassles gave her headache.” She felt just bad. “Airport sucks,” she said.

On her third day in Kathmandu, he took her for an outing. Amid pressure to both his official work and girlfriend, he would not take her far away. They went to Bouddha. \soon after they reached there, the girl wanted to rush back to the apartment. Her body was itching, her hair shine had disappeared and her eyes suffered intense irritation. 

Next day, he asked her whether she would like to go to some temples. She said anywhere away from ‘dust and construction site’ would be fine. But she promptly added that she would not walk through ‘bad roads’. The girl wanted safer and cleaner roads or else she would not ride pillion with him. Now, the challenge was deadly. The thrill was gone: he had bought his stylish bike two years ago with his hard-earned savings and had always dreamed of carrying a lovely girlfriend in the back seat. Moreover, while in China he had boasted that Kathmandu, where he works, is a wonderful place. Now she had started doubting him. Few days later, she left Nepal.

“She had come for 10 days. On the third day, she complained of dust, then of poor and risky roods. She refused to ride pillion on my bike. On the seventh day, she was gone,” he said expressing frustration.

After a moment of reflection, he added “we have the worst mayor.” Then he compared mayor of Kathmandu with mayors of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. “At least he should have done something to address this mess. Kasto mula mayor parechha hamro (what a useless mayor we have).”

Kathmanduities have not expected miracles from Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya. But they want to see him doing something. 

Gross inaction 

A mayor can do a lot, if he wants. Infrastructures and management systems of core city area depend on policies and activities of the metropolis. It can intervene in crucial areas and when necessary, bring together all concerned bodies and ministries for desired change and development. 

It is the duty of Kathmandu Metropolitan City to check whether roads, buildings, towers, heritage sites, parks, green belts, and drainages are in proper conditions. If they are not, the office of metropolis can take necessary measures to bring them in proper form. 

If roads of Kathmandu are in mess, or devoid of traffic lights, signs and symbols, it is because the KMC is doing nothing about it. If the greenery and open spaces have shrunk and left neglected, it is because of KMC.  If a tourist like the Chinese girl leaves Kathmandu just because of dusty roads, the mayor should indeed feel the pinch. An active and smart mayor can completely change the face of a city. Our mayor is not seen to do any of these basic duties. 

Bidya Sunder Shakya sold the dreams of ‘monorail’ and ‘smart city’. But people have different problems. Reports warn that locals of Kathmandu are going to be chronic heart patients in the days to come due to consistent exposure to harmful dust. Never ending road constructions almost everywhere have already taken toll on their health. The locals seriously want mayor to be realistic and promptly do whatever is within his reach to minimize such risks. They want the KCM office to use its power and resources to the optimum for improvement. 

Only then it would suit him to talk about monorail and other sweet dreams. 
Shakya is, in fact, doing nothing. He is simply wasting time. He is killing very precious days of ‘the mayor of the capital city’. It’s a crime. If you have occupied highly important position but do not feel obliged to deliver, it’s indeed a crime. 

Well, many other department heads have been committing this kind of crime for long. This poorly managed city was not created in a day. This is the result of collective inaction, state negligence and corruption on the part of many other position holders in several ministries and units. We today live with poor public infrastructures and chaos because of them.

Keep your promise

But Shakya, or any other mayors of the country, cannot take such excuse. During the local elections last year, the contestants had accepted that people’s expectations are huge and they had to deliver because they have been granted sweeping powers by the constitution. Shakya was one of them. He knew. 

If he had no zeal and interest to do anything, he should have settled for some other role. Now that he has been elected he needs to be accountable or he should quit. 
It has been eight months since he assumed office. In this span of time, he has drawn public attention thrice, not for the right reasons anyway. 

He drew our attention when right after joining office he demanded expensive car and mobile phones for himself and his crew members. He drew out attention again in August last year when he gave some cold statements during a meeting organized by Metropolitan Traffic Division Office. The last time he enraged the public was when he rooted for rebuilding Ranipokhari in modern style.

In all three cases he exposed his insensitivity towards public. When he had attended the meeting of development stakeholders in August, he did not spare single word for the girl who had died trapped in drainage due to monsoon flood in Kathmandu. As if he is not a mayor, but a naïve commoner, he said without any sense of guilt that he cannot fill the potholes or do anything about safety matters citing ‘waste of money in the monsoon season’. He made no commitments to avert that kind of tragedy in the future. 

If he was really concerned about waste of money, he would have proved it by showing urgency for the same work post monsoon. He did nothing. Even now, roads along Kapan, Chabahil, Mitrapark, Gaurighat, Maitidevi and Baneshneshwor, among other zones, are like death traps. Now the winter is over and monsoon will arrive soon. We will be back to the same mess.

Shakya should have shown greater worry about all this. Had he been authentic, he would be available, communicative and active. But he shies away not only from media or reporters, but also from his own ward members.  It’s hard to meet him. 

This does not help. His poor performance will erode his and his party’s (CPN- UML had picked him for candidate) credibility. People are watching. He should be open. If lack of resources and cooperation are problems, let us know. Let people understand their mayor.

With CPM-UML led government in power, it should be even easier for Shakya to deliver. He should ensure basic rights to health and comfort of Kathmandu locals.

If he does that he will be helping my brother, too. If Kathmandu regains its beauty, he can bring his Chinese girlfriend back, most likely forever. 

The author is with Republica’s social bureau


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