When Kathmandu Metropolitan Town got its first nominated mayor in 15 years, the excitement was palpable and anticipation was high. Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya’s assure to accomplish 101 tasks in his first 100 days in the office created much hope for a ‘clean and green livable city’. His assurances of ensuring the reconstruction of the iconic 18th-century monument Dharahara made it appear like Shakya was going to leave no stone unturned to give Kathmandu a much-needed facelift. Promises galore. But it seems that Shakya’s campaign guarantees were filled with rhetoric that was not meant to be actualized.
Last year, for example, the Metropolitan had separated Rs50 million for street lights. The task, called Bright Kathmandu, was a bright idea–but remained so only on paper. Likewise, through the programs and policies that the government launches yearly before presenting the budgets, plans to build sky bridges in Tripureshwor, Kalimati, Thapathali, and Maitighar were approved. A sizable fund of Rs120 million was earmarked for the same. But citing reasons of inadequate technical study and lack of discussion, Kathmandu Metropolitan City took a step back and the project never really took off.
There are lots of other examples where ideas germinate but fail to take shape or never get finished. In Kathmandu, the potholes and dangerous open drainages on the road are still a common element, stray animals roam easily causing traffic nuisance and accidents, and of course, there aren’t enough public toilets. The mayor assured smart toilets but it’s important first to have toilets that function effectively; where sanitation and running water are prioritized. What’s more, Shakya again promised to make KMC’s service transparent and accessible to the public, to control pollution, to expand health service, to preserve traditional monuments, to solve parking problems and to solve the water crisis.
Obviously, Shakya bit off a lot more than he could chew, and Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s indifference in addressing each day problems faced by the people has made the citizens of Kathmandu crucial about its activities and in activities. In so many cases, the projects have been identified and the money required has been estimated. However, ultimately, the troubled authorities have either failed to implement the required funds on time or have failed to raise the required revenue. Urban parks, efficient public transportation, well-lit streets, and easy access to clean, well-functioning public toilets move a city up the livability ladder. Shakya made tall promises to the public. He needs to recall them and deliver on his promises before his tenure has ended.