13 October 2012

Lack of urban planning for roads construction will lead to disputes and killings over land, says MP

Fretilin MP Josefa Alvares Soares. Photo: The Dili Weekly
ETLJB 13 October 2012 - The lack of attention to the urban planning aspects of the government's proposed road  construction program will lead to disputes and killings over land, according to opposition Fretilin member of parliament Josefa Alvares Soares.

The Dili Weekly reported the MP's comments on 2 October 2012. “The lack of urban planning will result in a lot of heartache for you later when you try and implement the road-works,” she is reported to have said in the Parliament.

According to MP Soares, urban planning is crucial to map out the road-works.

“If you do not do this, we will end up screaming at each other or even killing each other because this house has to be moved, this road must go through this person’s property. It will be a major headache,”she said.

In response, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said that urban planning was not included in the Five Year National Development Plan because urbanisation was not limited to Dili and included the Districts and sub-Districts.

“This will take time, we will need to survey, gather all information, and then start planning,” said PM Gusmao, as reported by The Dili Weekly.

The Prime Minister also stated that urban planning would be implemented in wide spaces or open land to encourage people to go there rather than have every one drifting from the Districts to the capital Dili.

The condition of the roads infrastructure in East Timor is extremely poor. On 9 October, The Dili Weekly also reported that the road to Raiheu in the District of Ermera, for example, is totally destroyed, and people living in this area struggle to travel to Ermera.

“The road is really bad, causing us grief every time we need to travel to Ermera City. Most people are unhappy they have to use this road,” said Raiheu resident, Augusto Amaral, recently in Ermera.

He asked the Government to fix the road because it was stopping them from transporting their local produce to the markets.

Member of Parliament (MP) Arao Noe is reported to have that the Government planned according to the State Budget. “Unfortunately the Raiheu road is not included in the 2013 Budget, there is nothing that can be done right now,” said the MP.

He suggested Government survey all the roads nationally so it could plan repairs, as in the case of Raiheu, and budget accordingly.

Public Works Roads Engineer, Jose Augusto said there were no plans to repair this road this year, only the road to Poetete would be fixed.

Augusto described the complex bureaucratic procedures for the road repair process. He said that in order for the Government to act, they had to receive a request from the Regional Public Works Office, which could only come about if the request was channelled from the community through the Chefe de Suco and then the District Administrator.

“To date we have not received a request for Raiheu but we will act once we get it,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to another report in The Dili Weekly on 9 October 2012, works by construction company Estrada Bo’ot on the “Lampu Merah” road in Colmera in the centre of the capital Dili have been stopped on direct orders from the Secretary of State for Public Wok (SEOP) because its road engineers said the works were not in accordance with the specified standards.

“Currently the company is still repairing the worse affected roads such as the one along the Indonesian Embassy, which is full of potholes, and the road next to “Lapangan Pramuka”, said SEOP Roads Engineer, José Augusto, last month in Mandarin, Dili.

He added that the rework’s at Colmera would resume once these two were appropriately repaired.
Member of Parliament (MP) Mateus de Jesus praised the SEOP plan to fix the roads in Dili commuters would feel safe travelling on Dili roads.

“The company must be made accountable for the works they did in Colmera, and repair the road according to the required standards,” said the MP.

Roads are a big problem in Timor-Leste and the Government is responsible for ensuring companies comply with standards required to ensure quality and value for money,” said the MP.

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