Those who complain about the lame duck reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure in earthquake-battered Nepal now have the most powerful supporter of their voice. And it is none other than Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli himself, the executive head of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. He too has let his steam off at the utter hopelessness surrounding tens of thousands of survivors living in inadequate shelters, recent gale and hailstorm only adding to their woes.
But PM Oli’s statement of despair gives rise to a simple, logical question.
If the prime minister of a nation publicly complains about the performance of agencies his government leads then who would the mass complain to?
Speaking at a seminar held yesterday in Kathmandu, the prime minister told an audience of quake-hit district chiefs and local development officers that at the current rate of progress, reconstruction could not be completed even in decades. He likened the progress of the reconstruction and rehabilitation activities to the legendary tortoise, “The earthquake happened last April 25. Another April 25 is around the corner. Whatever is the reason, our ways are that of the tortoise!”
Ironically, the prime minister himself is the chair of the Consultation and Directive Committee of the National Reconstruction Authority. That would only mean the tortoise is walking under his very guidance.
Mr Oli, who is now a household name in the Himalayan nation for his propensity to pack loose humour in almost every sentence he utters, vented his frustration on Tuesday weeks before the South Asian country is poised to mark the first anniversary of last year’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed nearly nine thousand people and left over 20 thousand injured.
According to a report published by Nepal’s largest circulated Kantipur Dainik, the PM apparently said that things that should have been completed within a month of the disaster have been done in a year’s time.
Referring to the recent gale that ripped through the survivors’ tents, he said ‘it was not a simple thing’ that the victims had to go through that sort of situation, adding, “We could not rescue. We did not rescue people under the open sky exposed to the snow. Rainy season is around the corner. It seems we cannot rescue even from the rain.”
He expressed anger that the relief money was not being distributed to the people on various grounds such as absence of the legal framework and procedures. In his well-known style, he said that the earthquake did not come per the law, so there is no need to look for laws to distribute the money.
With inputs from Kathmandu correspondent Krandan Chapagain