Monday, March 1, 2010
The Prime Minister chose well to offload the vital ministry of Works and Transport back on Polye when he retook his Kandep seat in a by-election.
Prior to his being disqualified by the court of disputed returns, the minister was in a hurry to get the ailing transport infrastructure maintained and operational to optimum standard.
The hassles of a court ordered by-election and electioneering have slowed him down in his plans to secure funding for road maintenance and upgrading - his top most priority and biggest assisgnment was to secure foreign aid for the costly exercise of lifting the standard of the Highlands Highway to some respectability and usability.
Currently he his faced with the unenviable task of stretching the K30 million allocated his ministry for the long winding road from Lae through the Highlands interior and other roads as well. This is an impossibility. And while he is scrambling for more money to fix this much talked about national asset, other important road networks elsewhere in the country are falling apart too. He needs to find a lot of money and pretty quick.
No wonder he is irritated by the obese bureaucracy at National Planning Department.
He said everyone thinks his departments are at fault when in fact, the department responsible for making budget allocations and releasing funds is sitting on the requested and budgeted funds.
Mr Polye also said that the department of National Planning should know the importance of road maintenance and appropriate enough funding for it.
The Kandep MP said if he was responsible for budgeting, he would appropriate K400 million for transport maintenance, K250m for roads and K150m for jetties and wharves.
Bureaucratic processes and procedures are an accepted norm but unfortunately, the elements contributing to PNG's disastrous road conditions have no regard for bureaucracy. And that is a reality Waigani seems not to understand and appreciate.
Minister Polye's suggestion to have the Planning functions taken over by the Prime Minister's Department sounds a logical thing to do. National Planning and Monitoring, though relatively new, may have become another large government department which has assumed immense self-importance but lacks the cutting edge mentality to speedily facilitate vital national development initiative.
If a State Minister has difficulty with the Department there what hope has anyone else?
A day after Minister Polye expressed disappointment with the National Planning Department, his colleague Paul Tiensten has reportedly returned the score.
While it would be nice to know who or what is responsible for the slow implementation of vital road maintenance work, what the country needs least is a media debate and attempts to apportion blame.
The roads are going fast, gentlemen. Stop arguing and get on with the job of fixing them.