Roads still in ruins after power swap
The Transport Ministry is in talks with a National Legislative Assembly (NLA) committee on ways to deal with damaged roads that have not been well maintained since being entrusted to the care of local administrative organisations (LOAs).
Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn said an ideal solution would be to transfer the roads in question back to either the Department of Highways (DH) or the Department of Rural Roads (DRR).
The problem stems from a recent push to decentralise power, he said.
Jurisdiction over a number of roads built by the two departments was transferred to the LOAs but the law prohibits sending them back, he added.
The ministry and NLA need to have more detailed discussions to thrash out a solution, Mr Pailin said.
“The departments have tried to help those LOAs with covering the costs of repairing their damaged roads, but if they continue resolving the problem this way, they may encounter problems with the Office of the Auditor-General [OAG],” he added.
He was referring to the office’ s auditing of the departments’ budgetary spending in areas that are not their direct responsibility.
The roads get damaged easily due to heavy cargo trucks, necessitating constant and costly maintenance and repair.
LOAs asked to take care of them struggle with the lengthy and slow process of seeking approval to allocate their budgets in this area, said Mr Pailin.
Under the decentralised power law, the DRR is required to transfer jurisdiction over the roads it has built — making for a combined length of 72,010km — to the LOAs, he added.
Roads totaling 66,836km in length have already been transferred but 726 LOAs have asked that 1,768 roads totalling 10,119km be returned to the DRR, he said.
The department has a similar problem with sea wharves it has built and transferred to the Treasury Department.