A vision of local government (LG) in the future addresses two fundamental questions: why is LG necessary; and how will it secure the skills and capacity to do its job well. City planning thus involves the anticipation, so far as practicable, of all the city's future needs, physical, social, and financial. It seeks to turn the lessons of the past to the profit of the future.
Increased attention is now being given, the world over, to the improvement of the fundamental influences affecting city life. This new solicitude has been inspired by the extraordinary growth of cities, by the steadily increasing complexity of urban relations, and by a better appreciation of the fact that contented citizenship is largely a matter of congenial environment. The enterprise is today known as city planning—an endeavor to transform the modern community into a safer, more convenient, more healthful, and more attractive place of human abode.
The new system of local government indeed superbly excellent, despite initial years of its implantation, continues to sail in troubled waters. Most key officials are yet to understand the new situation providing a dominating role to the locally elected members in running the affairs of the city government. With this ambiguity we continue to see tons of uncollected trash, broken roads, and contaminated water supply and sewerage system in ghastly conditions. Many problems remain to be solved—securing clarity and understanding about the concept by all stakeholders. Still much work still has to be done.
The councils were elected on non-party basis to avoid conflict in service delivery. Sadly, not only the conflict continues to exist but cooperation is also absent. The development of LGs has also created a dearth of trained manpower, particularly in finance and planning, information technology, law and literacy groups.
Contrary to the concept of LG, the prevailing corrupt culture has thrown consumers of services at far end, with no say, whatsoever. The Council members receiving kickbacks from infrastructure projects, display large banners in self-praise and thus trying to create false impressions of their good work. Local projects are conceived not on preference basis, but on the amount of sweetener the elected representative will get. Thus the representatives elected by people turned out to be the guardians of their own private interests.
Among the varied activities of the modern city few are more intimately related to the daily life of the people. To safeguard the public health in any large community is a task of the first magnitude. But it is an indispensable public undertaking, for health is the greatest single factor in personal efficiency.
The modern city throws off an enormous amount of waste material from day to day. The total is sometimes as much as a ton daily per head of population. This waste consists of a great variety of things namely, rubbish, garbage, and sewage. Rubbish and garbage may become a health menace under certain conditions by increasing the number of rats, mosquitoes, flies and other insect carriers. The LG must engage private sector in handling these issues.
If the most imperative need of a modern city is its water supply, the next in point of urgency among its daily requirements is the removal of waste. A modern community could endure for a season without pavements, street lights, parks, telephones, or street cars; and it might conceivably struggle along for a time without schools, police, or fire protection; but without water and sewerage it would find the greatest discomfort and inconvenience within twenty-four hours. Public sanitation is therefore entitled to a place at the top of the list among the essential industries of every large community. It may be briefly defined as the art of removing all objectionable wastes in the most unobjectionable way.
The street plan of the city determines the configuration of its growth and development, including the general uniformity or variety of private structures. Nearly all the physical aspects of municipal administration are in some way or other related to the public thoroughfares, and it is for this reason that the fundamental importance of street planning, street construction, and street maintenance can hardly be exaggerated. In the modern city one-third or more of all the land area is dedicated to street use.
The Nazim occupies a position of great visibility, and constituents have high expectations about the leadership that he ought to deliver. He is viewed as the problem-solver-in-chief in city government. Unfortunately, despite the available power and authority, his honor has failed to get things done. The incumbents are more concerned in pseudo publicity rather than real work. They need to learn that only service to people matters. They will win hearts of people when they will solve their real problems. False publicity only promotes cynicism.
EDOs are professionals, and skilled civil servants. They have adopted a policy leadership role as well as implementation of programs, delivery of services, and management of resources. Though still somewhat ambivalent about this new role, they bypass the LGs for provincial governments on many important issues, including preparation of budgets.
LG should be seen as an asset rather than a potential threat. It is not defined as a delivery agent for federal or provincial government. It is another democratically elected tier of government, with the strengths and responsibilities that come with a democratic mandate.
Bureaucracy should accept this changed situation.
Cities in Pakistan are under increasing pressure to find effective ways to meet their problems and respond to the needs of citizens. With diminishing outside assistance, officials in city government are challenged to determine the purpose and direction of their government and to generate the resources to carry out their mission. They must not only find more revenues locally to address their problems, they must also discover the resources within themselves to give leadership to their city, provide quality services, and manage shrinking budgets with greater efficiency. Asif J. Mir, Organizational Transformation
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