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Ten years ago, the government submitted a bill to the National Assembly to establish the Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport (PART). No less than five billion dinars of public money spent on this authority, after which the government decided to call it a failed idea, purge it and transfer its tasks to a management in the Ministry of Public Works.
We predicted from day one the failure of this institution, and we proposed two months ago to revive it and restore powers to it, but no one heard us, not for the first time, nor before announcing its death officially a few days ago.
The committee came to life as dead, as it was given the amount of powers and responsibilities that exceed the capacity of any person to manage it efficiently, especially after the ‘Brotherhood’ took over, and here are the appointments from their cadres from day one.
The Ministry of Works hesitated for years before agreeing to hand over the authority the right to supervise the roads, which was like a hen laying golden eggs, and it did so, after reluctance, not before the Ministry left all the internal roads to itself.
The Ministry of Interior also refused to hand over to PART the right to supervise traffic lights, the right to issue vehicle licenses, the right to supervise land transport, the right to give licenses, the right to collect road fines, as stipulated in its founding law, and the right to set technical examination standards for all vehicles, develop, manage, license and supervise them.
This is in addition to the right to issue and renew driving licenses, the right to inspect mass transport systems and ensure their safety, the right to build and supervise technical examination centers and their licensing, the insurance requirements for all vehicles, their technical condition, the requirements for those who drive them, their driving experience, the management and operation of truck weight systems and coordination with the concerned authorities.
Also the right to establish joint-stock companies or participate in them to implement their projects, and all these “rights” are mentioned in the Authority’s law in the presence of the Minister of Interior personally, and ministers of other parties and none of them issued a single objection.
The authority was also entrusted with the responsibility of establishing railway and metro projects, places for rest and the right to own or rent real estate, materials and equipment, select and test all computer programs necessary to perform its work, monitor the movements of each sector, determine transportation tariffs and impose fees, draw up the state’s transportation policy, and implement the related projects, supervising all activities that fall within the right of way, and many other things that cannot be mentioned here.
It suffices to know that the volume of road projects under implementation or agreed to be implemented in the years following the establishment of the authority has exceeded $20 billion.
The matter did not take long, as it proved impossible for any party to manage a body of this size, and as happened in Hemingway’s novel “The Old Man and the Sea”, the various parties began to nibble at the authority, leaving nothing for it, especially after the corruption involving some of the ‘Brotherhood’ members and the corruption of some in the Ministry of Works and the road contractors mafia.
It was not surprising, therefore, that the last head of the authority and his deputy had to submit their resignations and go home even before hearing their acceptance from the minister.
Billions were lost following the establishment of PART, and the experience can be repeated, without any doubt.
Note: The interview of Professor Muhammad al-Yaqout, a member of the Roads Committee, more than ten years ago, with Muhammad al-Washhihi revealed that the road crisis is deeper than we imagined, and we have to return to the subject.
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By Ahmad alsarraf