As Corruption Eats Away into Our Infrastructure, [Archives:1998/43/Front Page]

October 26 1998
What Capital Accumulation?   
Economists call it capital accumulation. It is supposed to be the essence of growth. It refers to society’s investment in infrastructure – both physical and human. It is the basic groundwork for any productive activity. That is why most nations – developed as well as developing, invest heavily in capital accumulation. 
In Yemen, the process of infrastructure building and human resource development has been a priority. The government has been spending an average of 30-40% of its annual budget on capital accumulation. Yet, there isn’t much accumulation in the true sense. Part of the reason is that corruption has allowed sub-standard execution. What this means is that most of the construction work, for example, is not of good quality. The supervisory authority allows this because of kick-backs and bribes it receives. 
Let us take a case, which is fast becoming classic – road construction. 
The world average life-span of roads is about twenty years. With proper maintenance, well-constructed roads can last for a long time. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Yemen. 
Yemen spends annually about YR 15-20 billion on road construction – both in cities and between cities. What one readily observes is that the life-span of roads in Yemen is much shorter than the world average. Roads lasted for an average of 8-10 years in the past. But that problem has been exacerbated in the recent past. Recently, the life-span of our roads has been falling steadily. In some cases, they fall into disrepair even before they are formally handed over by the contractor. This situation is both ridiculous and alarming. 
For those people who may think this is an exaggerated sentence, all they have to do is to go on the Khushm-Hajjah or Houth-Amran or Nadirah-Ibb highways. Within cities, there is plenty of evidence in Taiz, Sanaa, Hodeidah, Aden. 
This is not a political issue. Therefore, our rulers should not take the criticism with any sensitivity. It is a straight case of inefficiency, carelessness and, of course, corruption. Will the nation get an equally straight answer? 
Yemen Times will interview the officials in charge of the Highway Authority and the Ministry of Housing and Construction.  
See you next week.