The road to wastefulness


This is an issue that always bothers me; wastefulness. It is primarily a product of improper planning and inadequate follow ups. In Addis Ababa we have been able to build new roads that have transformed the capital city and we still are continuing to do so. Unfortunately, while we are focusing upon such things, we seem to have completely forgotten that in order to effectively use these  roads and enable them to serve their purpose for a long period of time, we need to regularly check that unnecessary damage to them doesn’t occur due to sheer negligence.
All around us we see spanking new roads deteriorate before their time and millions of birr going down the drain. This particular problem is really noticeable in areas were a lot of construction is underway. Construction work, especially alongside well-built roads, usually means their complete destruction as the many activities around such sites tend not to be regulated. All these problems are aside from those that are caused because of improper planning. I still find it amazing when I see the road passing through Meskel Square. Honestly, didn’t the people who were responsible for planning projects really know that sometime in the future trains are supposed to pass through the area? Because of poor planning and poor vision we are losing money in the millions. For those of us who do not care one way or another to notice that roads are being misused or know how much is spent on constructing roads, seeing some of them literally falling apart may not be such a big deal.
When I think about the amount of money that goes to waste in this country, it saddens me because we cannot really afford it, not even a little bit.
Foresight is a quite useful ability. To foresee or envision means that you are able to anticipate what the future will hold and plan for it accordingly. This ability is crucial for people in positions of power. A leader without foresight and vision is like a blind man driving a car; both of them are doomed to fail miserably. Observing giant trucks carrying dirt from construction sites which haven’t been covered properly and is spilt on paved roads when the trucks are in motion or seeing excavators and other construction machinery being driven randomly on roads that weren’t built to support their weight is not an unusual sight these days.
I’m sure most of us are also frustrated by our telecom and electric companies as well as the water authority that just seem to love digging up perfectly built roads for various reasons and not even bothering to restore them to their former status. All these things seem to point in one direction; poor planning and coordination. I seriously wonder who should be held accountable for such wanton destruction. Shouldn’t the concerned parties take responsibility for their actions?            To accommodate the Light Rail Transit (LRT) it is rumoured that asphalt roads worth millions of dollars are expected to be dug up. Couldn’t we have thought of better ways of utilizing the money which we are losing because of lack of foresight? I believe we could have. Now, I am not suggesting that nobody is planning ahead in this country of ours and everything is going to waste, but I’m just pointing out what everybody else is also observing, especially in regards to the road construction sector. I sincerely hope once we have everything in place, like all the condos and the trains, the wastefulness will stop; or even better if someone or something is held accountable for it right now before the destruction reaches unprecedented proportions.
According to some sources, Ethiopia has spent over 600 billion birr in infrastructure development since 1990. That is more than USD 30 billion in over two decades, and Addis Ababa has gone through a world of transformation during that period.
While I strongly support the ongoing projects in Addis Ababa which is changing it for the better, it really needs to be done in a systematic way. If carrying out new constructions means ruining already usable ones, the point is being missed.
Hopefully, we will be able to take lessons from this and understand that we cannot afford to make mistakes that cost so much of the taxpayers’ money. That’s right, it is our money that is being spent and wasted, and everybody loses in this situation.