The anti-graft body said tests to determine the quality of infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges and buildings, among others, would discourage the tendency of corruption by maintaining low quality of the projects through collusion between government officials and contractors.
“We often receive complaints about roads and bridges being damaged in a short span of time after the construction, repair and maintenance works,” said CIAA Spokesperson Dirgharaj Mainali. “We can now confirm through lab tests if the quality was compromised and initiate action against those involved in the malpractices.”
CIAA officials said the current method of investigation--to rely solely on documents--into alleged corruption at development projects does not often lead to sufficient evidence to prove the quality of the structures had been compromised.
The CIAA will conduct sample tests of important development projects, especially those projects whose quality has been questioned, said Mainali. The CIAA last week collected samples of construction materials used in the Halesi-Diktel road section of the Mid-Hill Highway for a test. “We have assigned two officials with engineering background to operate the lab,” said Mainali.
The establishment of the lab might help the CIAA, but experts harbour doubts over its credibility. “The lab must be accredited from the government,” said Surya Nath Upadhyay, former CIAA chief commissioner.
The CIAA’s decision to set up its own lab has also been called into question, as the Department of Roads (DoR) and the National Vigilance Centre (NVC) both have similar labs.
The CIAA had started installing the lab equipment about six months ago. “The lab was established as per the decision of the CIAA board and budgetary provision from the government,” said Mainali, adding that they have already initiated the process for certification from the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology. He also insists that the CIAA cannot possibly rely on reports of the DoR lab as they may have to take action against officials of the department itself.
The NVC lab, which was established last year, has been authorised by the law to conduct technical audit of the development projects via a third party. But it has not come into operation yet. “We have not been able to bring the lab into operation due to the lack of skilled human resources,” said NVC Spokesperson Bishnuraj Lamichhane.Published: 2018-04-05 08:42:31