LESOTHO’S public works minister Tsele Chakela resigned in a huff earlier this month amid a flurry of rumours and suspicions that he had been pushed.
While the circumstances surrounding his resignation remain clouded in mist, what is not in doubt is that the country’s road network is in the intensive care unit and is in terminal decline.
Among the public’s major gripes against the former minister is that he failed to whip into line contractors that hired incompetent engineers to build our roads.
Chakela has fiercely denied that charge.
Nevertheless, we think it is an act of imprudence on his part to seek to exonerate himself from the problems that are haunting the government’s public works programme.
The public works ministry was under his stewardship since 2007 and he must do the honourable thing and accept part of the blame.
We however salute him for his decision to step down. It takes some bit of courage to resign. Not many politicians have the balls to take that step.
Chakela resigned when our road network was still in a mess.
Bridges that were built in recent years have collapsed.
Roads are filled with pot-holes and driving on them has become a nightmare.
Due to these poor roads lives have been needlessly lost.
Attempts to repair these roads have been half-hearted and shoddy.
Even in Maseru central the roads are in a poor state. There are endless construction works in Ha Mabote, Khubetsoana and Sea Point.
The road in Maseru West industrial area also remains unfinished with construction workers filling the road with what appears to be gravel.
Something must be done.
Our honest assessment is that most of the work that is being done on our roads has largely been pathetic and sub-standard.
We think it is perfectly in order for Basotho to demand answers as to what exactly is happening on our roads.
It is within our rights to ask such questions if we are to exorcise this country of the demon of corruption and incompetence.
The public must demand answers about the quality of work that is being done on our roads.
We think it is in the national interest that we get answers to these questions that are critical to our national development aspirations.
We all know that an effective road network is a prerequisite to national development. We cannot develop as a country until we put in place an effective and efficient road network.
We raise these issues because we note with serious concern the rot that is gnawing at the heart of the construction sector.
In short we think the multi-billion construction sector is need of thorough cleansing.
This is because we are a poor country that relies heavily on donor funds.
This makes it even more pressing to invest the little that we have to develop our infrastructure.
When resources are allocated to key projects we must ensure that we use those resources wisely by not accepting shoddy work that keeps us perpetually beholden to the donor community.
Lesotho cannot afford to embezzle the little that we generate and source from donors.
On yet another level we want to once again promise our loyal readers that we will not shirk our responsibility to raise uncomfortable questions about issues that we think are in the national interest.
It would be dereliction of duty were we to fail to do so.
When the government rips off the public purse to bail out troubled firms, we will ask questions.
When bridges collapse and roads remain unrepaired, we will also ask questions.
This might be uncomfortable to the parties concerned.
But we believe we have a solemn duty to our readers to keep them informed.
An informed citizenry is best suited to keep kleptomaniacs, wherever they are found, on their toes.