Public Works Department (PWD) heads in all the six provinces were warned not to involve in “corrupt deals” or they will be disciplined.
Public Utilities Minister, Tony Nari, said PWD has a budget of only Vt500 million for road maintenance around Vanuatu but if that “alleged practice” continues, there will be no improvement on roads.
Minister Nari invited all the government backbenchers to the meeting to ask why the roads in their respective constituencies have not been completed.
Agriculture Minister, Christopher Emelee, who was present, claimed that in Torba the PWD road maintenance staff “only play card during working days”.
“Their machines awaits spare parts from Luganville and some times it takes between three to four months before it arrives, so the people paid by the tax-payers to provide service delivery just play cards.”
He said each time Parliament approves the road budget in Torba but in reality nothing of significance really happens.
The same sentiments were shared by Malekula MPs Don Ken and Jerome Ludvaune, Epi MP Robert Bohn and Paama MP Jonas James. Tanna MP Sebastien Iauko was also present at the meeting.
Mr Emelee also accused PWD of entering into some shady deals with owners of private companies that own heavy duty machines and when they arrive at the working sites they are not operational.
“Torba is used as a dumping ground,” Minister Emelee claimed.
The PWD said they have limited resources in man power, heavy machines and they do not have enough qualified engineers to oversee the work carried out by the maintenance team.
Procurement or the process of obtaining spare parts or ordering new machines, has been cited as the main factor which has contributed to people complaining to the PWD for failure to repair roads.
Minister Nari praised PWD for their willingness to share information with the government and he said he wanted their grievances in writing so he could share the information to the Council of Ministers.
The Minister was told that overtime for road maintenance workers is an issue.
PWD could do maintenance work “during the nights and at weekends in town” but the non-payment of overtime has not motivated staff.
After Cyclone Pam Vt160 million was used from the Vt500 million to restore infrastructure in the cyclone affected areas.
Nari promised PWD to he will ask the Ministerial Budget Committee to increase the budget ceiling for road maintenance next year “but first you must demonstrate how well you can utilize the the current budget”.
He said roads are a means to boost economic development because “if you have good roads you have more exports of copra, more beef, more kava, more cacao which bring in much needed foreign exchange”.
Meanwhile, the Port Vila Urban Development Project is expected to be completed in July and the tender process will start before Christmas this year.