26 December 2007

It should have come before the Muthaqadhim Party!

We may be more than 1000 year old country but, we do not have the backbone needed for any economic growth; that is a Nationwide Affordable Transport system. We do not have such a system, in spite of having a government Ministry named after transport. Being a small island state, we need two things.

-Access to bigger markets
-Mobility of labor and resources.

We cannot have those without, a nation wide affordable transport mechanism and port (air or sea) facilities. Absence of such a mechanism connecting islands that have hospitals or schools in an atoll, is one of the main reason that lead to congestion in Male’ area. It is cheaper to travel to Male’ than to the nearest island in your atoll.

Furthermore, it also makes traveling by air doubly expensive. Setting up airports without a ferry system does not make good economic sense. Within the atolls they do not travel, they do not talk and they do not exchange goods and services. Consequently, cash is generated in Male’ and ends up in Male’. It dose not stay long in any part of the country. Hence, in comparison, productivity is nil in 199 islands of the Maldives except Male’.

Actually this should have come before or at the same time as the Muthaqadhim party and the countless campaigns (literacy campaign, rebuilding island offices etc) afterwards. It is sad that none of our leaders realized the importance of such a mechanism or even if realized, did not do anything to change it.

One may think that such a mechanism will be very expensive for the state to implement. I disagree. For instance, the state is able to provide each and every atoll chief, with an expensive vessel for travelling. It lay idle most of the time. What if, the money is used to buy a vessel that can be used to give minimum ferry services within the atoll. The atoll chief could use the same vessel for traveling.
State money should first be used to ease hardships of the citizens and perks to top officials should come later if only we can afford it, after providing all the basic services.

3 comments:

salma said...

Two or three years ago, ADB had committed a huge some of money for technical assistance in developing a transportation master plan. The TA failed because, as I heard from a reliable source from within the Min of Transport, " it was not put together cohesively and comprehensively and did not include a lot of needs expressed by the stakeholders ... in short the consultants were not competent enough to take up such a tast as to do a masterplan for a large sector as that of transportation ..."

There is now talk of a second TA and consequently a second round of consultants coming in for second round of money just to develop a plan. A waste in my opinion. All that money could effectively be used to pilot a good transportaion system in one of the atolls at least.

Muna said...

what if the money spent on consultants were given to the people and asked them to develop the system on their own. the latest in thing is get some dhonmeehaku and spent million of dollars for him to tell what we need and what we already know.. the dhonmeeha in return ask the locals and reproduce it and get all the money!

salma said...

Exactly, Muna. We would be building their capacity and their ability to plan and implement development activities on their own. It is the best way that we could give ownership to the people. Its simple logic.

But the govt. likes to make our communities dependant on them so that when its time for elections they can always buy votes by promising them things that never materialize.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" Mahatma Gandhi