NRA fails to set up regional officesThe National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has failed to establish its sub-regional offices due to a human resource crunch, triggering fears of further delays in post-earthquake reconstruction.
The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has failed to establish its sub-regional offices due to a human resource crunch, triggering fears of further delays in post-earthquake reconstruction.
Sub-regional offices, originally scheduled to be operational by mid-January, were expected to coordinate between resource centres that have four or five Village Development Committees and the NRA headquarters. Senior government officials are reluctant to join the Authority citing a lack of clarity on career prospects while working under an “untested” chief executive.
“We have not been able to establish regional offices yet due to a staff shortage, which is likely to hinder already delayed reconstruction works,” said NRA Spokesperson Suresh Adhikari. In mid-January, the Authority had endorsed its plan of establishing six joint-secretary-headed sub-regional offices in Dolakha, Kavre, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Kathmandu and Lalitpur to coordinate works in the 14 worst quake-affected districts and one more sub-regional office to oversee 17 districts with lesser degree of damage from the jolts last year. No progress has been made so far in this direction.
An organisation and management survey conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office and the NRA has suggested that the government recruit 208 civil servants including 17 joint-secretaries, 36 under-secretaries and a large number of engineers.
Till date, only 51 staffers, mostly junior-ranking, have joined the Authority while the General Administration Ministry has assured of deputing 30 officials immediately. All of the deputed officials are working from the headquarters while the presence of technicians who are highly required to push reconstruction works forward is almost nil. The NRA has positions of 29 engineers but only two junior-level engineers are in office, according to Spokesperson Adhikari.
Although the NRA plans to begin rebuilding works from Singati in Dolakha, where a detailed assessment of damage to houses and infrastructure has been conducted, by March 4, the field office is yet to be set up. The Authority is preparing to deploy one joint-secretary to coordinate reconstruction works in the district.
Despite the mandate to hire officials through open competition in case the government fails to provide the required workforce, the NRA has not decided on the option. “We want to wait a bit as it will be easier to work with government staffers,” said Adhikari. The NRA Act empowers the CEO to appoint employees at various levels on contract basis.