Good roads are the engine of growth for the economy of any modern nation. From no roads at the start of the blessed Renaissance, today the Sultanate has an extensive network of roads that each and every citizen can be proud of, thanks to the vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
At the beginning, the great ruler envisaged that this nation should have the best of modern roads and bridges, and today every nook and corner of Oman has access thanks to good roads, a symbol of progress.
But the upkeep of this infrastructure is vital for further growth of the nation and who is responsible for the road networks? Is the Ministry of Transport and Communications the sole authority in charge of this vital infrastructure or are the municipalities supposed to maintain the roads that come under their jurisdiction?
There has been much debate in the social media and other forum on this subject.
Who is the authority responsible to build roads, maintain them and keep them in proper condition? The Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources has washed of its hands on this subject.
There is a live debate between the ministries and some confusion among the general public which leaves them asking again “Who is responsible for the roads?”
The two parties, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources need to urgently decide who is in charge of public roads.
It is very clear that the responsibility should be entrusted to a single authority for efficient maintenance of this lifeline.
Various road projects across the Sultanate are being implemented by five different authorities including the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, the municipalities of Muscat, Dhofar and Suhar.
And not to be left out, the various wings of the armed forces are also involved in the development of roads under their jurisdiction.
This problem of five different authorities implementing road projects would naturally give rise to debates with regard to responsibility of one particular job or the other.
Is it a highway or an internal road? Is it under the Ministry of Transport and Communications or is it under a municipality?
This divergence in responsibility of road projects unnecessarily wastes time, effort and money. The debate in the social media have also caused confusion among citizens.
The absence of coordination among the five authorities has caused lot of suffering for citizens.
It also begs the question about the standards followed by each authority while implementing road projects in the area that fall under its jurisdiction. Do they conform to the tough standards established by the specialists in the area? Do they have common parameters on the specifications of the projects on hand? Do they meet the best practices followed across the world? All such doubts can be laid to rest if projects are implemented by a common authority or institution. There is an immediate need for reorganisation of road projects.
It should be entrusted to a single ministry or authority as responsibility given to multiple parties would only end up wasting valuable resources in these hard times we live in.
Some people justify such an arrangement citing the fact that there are different types of roads and so each authority can implement and maintain different types of roads.
Roads are for transporting people and cargo from one place to the other.
So all road projects should be implemented under one entity to maintain them in the best possible way to save the lives of the users.
Ali Al Matani