Diaspora On Good Governance Issues: Case of Road Projects

addis-roadsAlmaz Feseha, a professional civil engineer in the USA with many years experience says the following”… Though Ethiopia is adapting well to its recent development, there are several areas within the planning and operation of road construction that could be better streamlined and made more transparent in order to improve efficiency and safety, ” You can find the full article Observations on Ethiopian Road Construction

As a professional yourself what else may be exacerbating the lack of good governance issues. Share your own experience based on your profession or share your thoughts on what Alamz has articulated well when it comes to Road Projects. Have your Say and be part of the ongoing campaign.

13 thoughts on “Diaspora On Good Governance Issues: Case of Road Projects

  1. How can you expect good governance in a country where the media is silenced and where there is no true separetion of power between the different branches of the government? Dont blame individuals for being corrupt. The governance structure and system is fundamentally wrong and needs to be ratified. No one have confidence in the rule of law in the country.

  2. I am not civil engineer but am very proud of our sister Almaz who shared her own experience. I have been to Ethiopia quite a few times and know what she is talking about.

    I understand having All the stake holders in to a meeting is hard and easier said than done in Ethiopia but it is the only way to solve some of the issues. I have seen Inept contractors awarded road contract in the name of promoting local contractors. The worst is these contractors are smart enough to blame other government depts for the delay and bad quality work.

    Besides road projects another area of complaint that is contributing to the issues of good governance is the public housing. The quality is very bad with most of the public housing. Imagine what future local governments will be facing when these building collapse or become a ghetto! A little pre planning effort today could go a long way to improve the problem that will become!

    Thanks aigaforum as usual!

    • The public housing is going to be failed program because after the houses are built there is no in-house management team for each housing project. The houses are built and given to residents to take care of the houses and their enviro. I would rather add 10 dollar to the property to hire a managing team. This is also job creation. As far as I am concerned Ethiopians for the most part have the attitude of use and abuse mentality. I have seen a lot of business people; do their business until the infrastructure they use every day to do their business collapses. There is no preventative maintenance approach for everything that is built in the country. After building anything, it is important to have a management team for preventive maintenance and improving services. These are very simple things; like, planting trees and grass to prevent soil erosion, collecting garbage and setting and implementing standards, cleaning backyards and taking collective responsibility for the common goods. One area the governments failing is that he government is not investing on farmers tools and has no any financing program for farmers to buy tractors but hurry to collect aid in the name of drought which can be a source of corruption because most of the money from aid is not accounted for most of the time

  3. The governance problem emanate from the structure put in place which I will explain later. The ruling party politics does directly interfere with the government. The government is filled by the very people who also have a stake in the party. because of that we see officials are wasting the very valuable time by endless meeting that has nothing to do with myriad challenges and problems of the country or the day today life of the people. I wonder if there is any other country anywhere close to Ethiopia where officials are paid just to attend meetings seven days a week.
    The other main problem is the party hirarchy interfers with that of the government day today activity. The person who is appointed at the higher position and who is supposed to listen to the grievances of the people and make a decision to reverse the situation is actually at a lower position in the party structure and whatever decision he/she makes will not be effective if at all he/she dares to reverse the decision of the lower body. Even during the brutal military regime, there was a very well put structure and the lower body always adhered to the decision of the upper body and people were confident that their plights will be heard and decision of the upper body will be implemented without delay. Now, people have no option since the upper body in the government office is so impotent to reverse the wrongs done by the lower body since those officials in the lower body within the government structure do assume a higher position within the party. Therefore, EPRDF lead government should stop conducting meaningless, unproductive and wasteful party meetings 24/7 and force all its officials to be in their office at all time to serve the people. If a party meeting is needed, it has to be conducted off duty hours. In today’s Ethiopia, nothing is done effectively, reports are false and lying is the order of the day. the day to day business is compromised by moronic meetings and corrupt and incompetent officials. Amazingly, slogans of good governance and efficient work are posted in every office but the reverse is more true. The party politics takes priority and no one cares about rendering day- today activity of government services. It looks pretty much a failed state where no accountability exists and no rule of law in place.

  4. በጣም ደስ የሚል ትዝብት ነው፡ የሚሰማ ወይም የሚያነበው የመንግስት ኣካል ካለ። ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ እዚህም እዚያም የስራ ወይም ግንባታ ኣለመናበብ ማየት የተለመደ ነው። ኣንዱን ገንብቶ ስያበቃ ሌላው ከኋላው መጥቶ ቆፍሮት ስሄድ ሃይ ባይ የለውም። ኣለመናበብና ኣለመግባባት እንደ ልምድ ተወስዷል።
    እህታችን እንዳለችው በኣስተዳደሩ ግድ የለሽነት ህብረተሰቡ በመንግስ ላይ ቢነሳሳ የሚገርም ኣይደለም። ባለስልጣናቱ እርስ በርሳቸው ቢሰባሰቡ ህብረተሰቡ ግን እቅዶቹ ፣ችግሮቹ ካላወቀ ወይም ካላሳወቁት ለኣሉዋልታ ወሬ የተጋለጠ ያደርገዋል። እህታችን እንዳለችው መናርያ ቤቶቹ ማፍረስ ለኣስተዳደሮቹ ላይሰማቸው ይችላል ለህብረተሰቡ ግን የመኖርና ያለመኖር ጉዳይ ነው። ህብረተሰቡ በፕሮጀክቱ ቢስማማ እንኳ ያለምንም ምክንያት ካስፈረሱ በኋላ ዝም ማለቱ ራስን በራስ እንደማነቅ ነው። ይህንን መሰሉ ጉዳይ ሌላ መልክ የሚያስይዙ ተዋናዮች መኖራቸውን ልብ ሊባል ይገባል። በቅርቡ በኣ/ኣና በኣካባቢዋ ስለሚኖሩ ኩታ ገጠም የኦሮምያ ዞኖች ስለታሰበው እቅድና በመንግስት ኣካላት ቸለልተኝነት ነገሩን ወዴት እንዳመራ ኣይተናል። የመንግስት ኣካላት በዝግ እርስበራሳቸው ስብሰባ ቢያደርጉ ህብረተሰቡ የሚያየውና የሚያውቀው ነገር የለም፤የተዋናዮቹ ኣሉባልታ ግን ኣገር ኣቃጥሎ ነበር። ለምን? በመንግስት ራስን የማዳመጥ ችግር ብቻ። መንግስት ራሱን ከማዳመጥ ችግር ወጥቶ የህብረተሰቡን የልብ ትርታ ማዳመጥ መቻል ኣለበት። የገዢው መንግስት ስልጣን ላይ የመጣው የስንቶቹ ጀግኖች ደምና ኣጥንት ተከፍሎበት መሰለኝ። እነሱም የተዋደቁት የኢትዮጵያውያን የወደፊት እጣፈንታ ላንዴና ለመጨረሻ ለመቀየር እንጂ ህብረተሰቡ በማይረቡ ተልካሻ ኣመራሮች እንዲጉላላ ኣይመስለኝም። በህይወት ያሉ የትግሉ ኣጋሮቻቸው ይህንን ሊያስቡበት ይገባል። ኢህኣደግ በምርጫ ተሸንፎ ቢወድቅ ምንም ኣይመስለኝም። ምክንያቱም ካገኛቸው ድሎች ሁሉ የበለጠ ድል ይሆንለታልና። የተታገለው ለዴሞክራሲና እኩልነት ኣይደል? ባለፈው 2 ወር ገደማ እንዳየነው ኣይነት ብጥብጥ ወይም በእንደ ግብፁና ልብያው የመሰለ ብጥብጥ ቢወድቅ ግን የከበረ ህይወታቸው ከፍለው የተሰውት ጀግኖች ዳግም የሚገድላቸው ግን በተንዛዙ ብልሹ ኣመራሮች ይህንን የሆነ እንደሆነ ነው። መንግስ ይህንን የመሳሰሉ ችግሮችና ተግዳሮች በመመርመር ላንዴና ለመጨረሻ መፍት መቻል ኣለበት።

  5. Our government system is rife with cronyism. Contracts are awarded to friends, families and party members instead of the one that’s best qualified for the job. This are symptoms of a government that rules by tight grip instead of a democratically elected government.

  6. I am a licensed professional engineer in NC and self employed.I design plumbing,mechanical and electrical for commercial buildings.From design to bidding to construction and final occupancy by the owner we go thru the same process Almaz described.Every one who has a say in the final product will speak and defend his interest.What we do goes thru an approval process by all agencies having jurisdiction .Issues which happen frequently in Ethiopia do not happen here.There is a lot of progress yet Ethiopia has still along way to go.Hopefully folks will learn from their mistakes and do not repeat them.

  7. Good governance issue will not be cured in one go. This should be clear to all. But some of the good governance issue can be avoided if there is proper planing and if the government is not to greedy to develop the country beyond its means. If it wants to be greedy then allow the greedy capitalist unfettered access to the country so they can develop it fast. The old argument capitalist will not develop infrastructure is mute now. There is enough infrastructure that is good enough for high risk investors. Then what Almaz said will be less of an issue since the private companies will not be that stupid to gamble with their investment . They will manage projects effectively.

    Having said the above, Ethiopia can use all the learned men and women in Diaspora. My hope is Almaz has started something the leaders and embassy officials should follow up. Call a general meeting of diaspora professionals. The US Ethiopian mission should call such meeting asap. I am dumbfounded why the ambassadors are not taking a proactive role in the campaign to remove the obstacles of good governance. Do they think the diaspora intellectuals are not good enough or they are of the opinion it is none of their business since the job is for the party to handle?

    Time to work hard to bring academics and professional to contribute towards the good governance issues.

    Aigaforum great work, we hope folks appreciate you as much as i do

  8. Dear All,
    I do believe bad governance is one of the biggest obstacles that EPRDF is currently facing. If the next few years, EPRDF does not solve this problem , it might trigger the nascent issues of national and land questions.
    EPRDF has debuted fairly in its governance in the beginning , but they became corrupted once they have tasted enough the power; in the last three elections, they sidelined the opposition groups and homogenized the power namely the three main branches of power. Having boasted to win all seat, EPRDF is lying to its teeth.

    Further, the recent issue that surfaced in Oromo region is nothing else in my limited perspective , but the issue of bad governance. The Master Plan has wake up young professional ( more than 500, 000 students have graduated in the last five years ) and they wanted a job and fighting for their own individual opportunities than ethnicity some scholars are alluded. This is a middle class in making that should be answered with a good governance, rule of democracy and rule of law.

    The only language of sustainable economic growth will not bring lasting solution unless EPRDF is fooling itself to follow Ghana’s path that economy alone will be democracy and rule of law.
    For example, Somali Region has more than land and people than some of the nations in the EPRD party; however, EPRDF is still insisting that the so-called aggar should watch the power sharing while the four parties have to be nominated in the key ministerial positions. This is the exactly the bad governance that put EPRDF in leadership crisis.

    EPRDF would not sustain the legitimacy of ruling unless she introduces a real and genuine reform in governance.Wake up and smell the coffee.
    Best Regards,
    Ismail Aka Hawd61

  9. I feel not only bad governance is the cause for existing problems, but also lack of visionary and creative leadership after the death of our great leader Meles Zenawi. Existing leadership is simply chewing on what Meles designed and implemented. It seems that the leadership has reached a dead end. This has bean my fear for long. Unless we get a visionary and and committed leader from the young generation, we are likely to proceed on as what we say in amharic “Balehibet Erget” and finally wear out ourselves and reveal all kinds of societal problems.

  10. I wish to thank the author of this article, Eng. Almaz, for sparking this interesting and constructive dialogue through a very simple, but solid personal observation that concerns all citizens of this wonderful country, both living abroad and within.

    The problem in question is indeed a lack of active governance, as in many of other similar cases. But, I believe this is only one aspect of the dynamic socio-economic,political & psychological make up of the country. The diversity of cultures and background, exposure to the outside world, technological burst, change in living conditions in both urban and rural areas, generation of a tourmented past, amount of children going to school (with quality lagging behind quantity for higher education), population boom & the scramble for resources, cultural shock from both West (the hip hop culture & capitalistic approach to a somewhat virgin society) and East (the Chinese dragon to be exact which are in Africa with a sword that has blades on both sides), recent global economic and political crisis shaping the “New World Order”, the amount of historical baggage that have accrued to date (I believe a lot of answers lie deep under our history and cultural heritages, which are under researched), etc. etc…. the list goes on, adding weight to the challenge. It is multi-layered, like an onion, seemingly unreachable. But it starts somewhere! And we certainly can outshine the vice to unimaginable level!

    This country needs the helping hands of professionals from all corners. It becomes much easier to identify the real symptoms, then uproot the cause. Our condition and situation is so unique, it’s peculiar to Ethiopia only. We need to understand ourselves more so we can dance with the current. Let’s draw lessons from others that can fit in place ( a wrong medicine can kill too). Protect our priceless social fabric & capitalize on it, not discard it all together in the name of modernization, or religion. Let the constructive criticisms (with suggestions) keep flowing, like what the author just did and bit by bit it will start taking shape that we all would love to see one day!

  11. There is a perception that has become all to common that EPRDF is not a welcoming organization to intellectuals! When I read Almaz piece I really wondered if the perception is not a perception but a reality. I am not sure any more if EPRDF knows there are good meaning intellectuals and academicians who really want to help. Many argue EPRDF never takes a project until one of the leader or leaders understand and comprehend what the project is all about. Meaning, for any project to be implemented an EPRDF official has to know the technology behind or has to become its sponsor. Such perception is taking its toll in introducing technology to the country and is also contributing to the lack of good governance.

    Though TPLF/EPRDF leaders were the crown-joule of Ethiopia’s student moment and few among the top academic performers, they should know there are too many academicians and professionals they could use in developing Ethiopia! They should try to trust and develop a healthy relationship with the non-tegadalay academicians and professionals!

    I am saying this because to-date non of the EPRDF member organizations have tried to call a professional meeting to consult and discuss on issues. It is mind boggling EPRDF has tired to implement GTP I with out a an effort to involve professionals and engineers outside its control. It is mind boggling EPRDF is trying to repeat the dismal performance of GTP I during GTP II with out involving the professionals and academicians. Even Dr Arkebe is trying to implement the industrial park with out consulting and holding any meaningful discussion with Ethiopian processionals who may be well versed on building and managing companies. Can you imagine how many Ethiopians may be working across the globe on high technology manufacturing plants and how many could be real contributing engineers.

    EPRDF can not solve good governance issues with out using technology and professionals. The issue with good governance is mainly the issue of development. Development needs know-how. Know-how is mainly gained through experience besides going to school. And such experience is learned on the job and to my knowledge Ethiopia did not have that luxury-only the west and to some extent China have that luxury! Now unless the perception is right why wouldn’t EPRDF try to reach the many engineers, doctors, managers who are willing to help? Thanks Alamaz for opening the discussion and let ting us vent!
    Zeru Hagos.

  12. Many are politicizing Almazäs search for good quality in contract management and implementation there to. Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular have no focus in quality. People are used to ad hoc solutions and thereby satisfied with products and services of bad quality. It is time to raise the awareness for better quality in whatever we produce, implement and use, invariably in all, be it services or products, in government or in private. I wrote an article on this matter for some years ago but the response was bad or no response from the public. We have a long way to go. Here is an excerpt from the dito article.
    “By Berhe Hagos
    Berhe.Hagos@teliasonera.com, Swede
    July 16 2010

    Coming up with quality products is an avenue to excel competitors as well as successfully penetrate the global market.” This was the quote of the week by Girma Biru, the minister of Commerce and Industry. I could not agree the least; quality is the main driver to effectuate the export market.

    The Quality and Standards Authority of Ethiopia (QSAE) is the National Standards Body of Ethiopia established in 1970. Its vision is to be a national centre for quality and standards that substantially contributes to raising the living standard of the society.

    I do not have enough information as to how effective the authority is, but I have observed the quality level of Ethiopian products is under all scrutiny. We have started to produce many products; we are building roads, bridges, houses and many other important infrastructure technologies. However, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that quality has been compromised for the sake of mass production.

    In line with the MDG we are purchasing and implementing very expensive technical projects in sectors like Shipping, Airline, Electricity, Telecommunications, Road construction, Oil and Gas, etc.

    I think no one can argue against the fact that sustainable infrastructure, high product life cycle, and excellent product brands can only be accomplished through high quality assurance. However many emerging markets are copying the processes that were undertaken by the developed nations during the 70´s and 80´s, in good faith that they are working with the management of product quality. During this period there was a need to structure, manage and document all processes in the industries. One of the main reasons was to avoid the dependency on individuals who monopolised certain knowledge of the processes and routines pertinent to the production. There was also a need to structure all other types of processes in all sectors to create and implement a total quality in the processes, routines and instructions. The result was the introduction of the so called ISO (International Standard Organisation) standards and thereby companies seeking ISO certification. Now a day’s few companies are interested in the certification process. Why is it so?

    99% of the companies in those countries have achieved their goals in full control of the process flows, in regularly reviewing and taking necessary corrective measures, in documenting and achieving all important records, etc. They do not need an external body to audit their documentation of processes and routines any more. What they focus at today is in the real product quality (sustainability, reliability, finishing, compliance to environment, etc). It is about the quality that will be perceived by you and me as consumers. “How is the finishing of the shoe you wear? How is the reliability of the electricity in my house? How many times do I have to dial before I get the line? Do I get proper message when I subscribe for a service from my cell phone? How many seconds dose it takes to open a simple e-mail? Do I have to worry about holes and cavities in the high way when driving? How reliable is the water supply in my house? How many hours do I have to queue for renewing my driving licence? Is the salad I get at the Hilton free of basketries, is the local cheese sustainable and risk free to eat? Are the local plastic tubes of export quality?”

    There are many things that needs to be done, but
    I suggest to H.E Girma Birru initiate with some simple measures that will enhance the control of product quality in our country:

    1.Certify private companies to work with quality assurance like calibration, Laboratory testing, Product Inspection, measurements, etc.
    2. All measurement and test equipments should be tax free.
    3.Introduce product quality certification (not to be confused with ISO certification).

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