Residents deprived of timely services for lack of ward secretariesThe absence of ward secretaries and registration officers has deprived service seekers of timely and effective services.
Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality in Rukum (East) has 14 wards, none of which has a ward secretary.
The wards don’t have registration officers either, and in their absence, it’s the health workers of the nearby health institutions who are carrying out all vital registration work.
The absence of ward secretaries and registration officers has deprived service seekers of timely and effective services and has also affected the daily workflow of the health workers, burdened as they are with additional roles.
“The office assistants at the ward office arrange the necessary documents,” said Samir Giri, the information officer at the rural municipality. “They come to the designated registration officers with the collected documents to verify the vital registrations. The health workers have been given the responsibility for the vital registrations as only the permanent government employees can verify the government documents of vital registrations.”
In Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality, this is how things are since 2017 because the posts of ward secretary have remained vacant.
According to existing legal provisions, vital documents could be verified by a Kharidar—a second-class non-gazetted officer—or a high-ranking government officer. Owing to the shortage of employees, the rural municipality has appointed employees on a contract basis but they are without the authority to verify the documents of vital registrations.
Giri himself has been working as a registration officer for wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9. Giri is the chief of the rural municipality’s health unit.
According to Harichandra BK, chief of the rural municipality’s administrative unit, Hemanta Budhathoki, the auxiliary health worker at Hukam Health Post, has been assigned the role of a registration officer for wards 5 and 6. Likewise, Om Prasad Chaudhary of Jangka Health Post is responsible for wards 7 and 8 while in charge of Taksera Health Post Birman Bohara for Wards 11 and 12.
Similarly, auxiliary health worker Kalibhan Bista of the rural municipality’s health unit and in charge of Rangsi Health Post Saroj Kusiyat have additional responsibilities to verify documents of vital registrations for wards 13 and 14, respectively.
The health workers who have to shoulder the additional administrative work complain that the responsibility has affected their regular work output. “We don’t have time to go to the ward office. The office assistants bring the documents to our workplaces and we verify them,” said Kalibhan.
Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 do not have transportation services. The office assistants must walk for hours to reach the designated officer for the vital registrations. “We have been facing hardship for a lack of ward secretaries,” said Abhiman Nepali, the office assistant of ward 1. “We have to collect documents and go to the rural municipality’s office on a regular basis. It takes two days to go to the rural municipality office.”
He also complained that the rural municipality does not provide any allowances for handling additional responsibilities.
Balaman Budha, a resident of the rural municipality’s ward 2, says he had to wait for a long time to get his son’s passport issued. He said he visited the ward office a few months ago to get a recommendation for his son’s passport. “We had to wait for a week to get the recommendation as the office assistant had to take the document to the designated registration officer before anything could be processed,” he said.