Kabul city, September 2010
In Jebrael, a small well-managed neighborhood in west of Herat city, people pay a monthly fee to a private contractor who collects their garbages. That area is a Hazara quarter, so it is very natural that they should take care of themselves because the government trucks will not come even close to their homes in a million years. However, there is one thing that Kabul a city with a non-functioning municipality, can learn from Jebrael: privatization of public services.
In Kabul tons of garbage is produced each day, but the City is not able to collect even half of it with the 80 trucks it has. So what to do? The municipality has already privitised some city services, like the bus system – which didn’t get any better for inadequate vehicles and bad management. Probably they should also try it on other services as well, like the garbage collection. The city of Toronto has recently decided to privative some public services, starting from garbage collection. Of course Toronto – with all the resources it has, is not comparable to Kabul in anyway, but from a managerial point of view, it works better for the City to privatize the tasks like garbage collection, and focus more on planning, regularisation of housing and urban re-development projects, enforcing these regularization and fighting corruption.
Because in this case people would “pay” to this private contractor and expect them to take responsibility for the public sanitation of the city. Right now, the “safayee” money that residents pay, is so small and even that small amount gets lost in the corridors of corruption in the municipality. The real problem in Kabul city (and whole Afghanistan at large) is that people are used to heavily subsided and free public services since the King Zahir, on the other hand government is weak and corrupt and can’t afford these services. So if the private monsters take over these works, they will deliver services and ask the “price” for it from the people, and the municipality should act as a regulatory body who controls the things.
The westerners introduce only a caricature of the “values” they have back home to Afghanistan; the democracy is the dirty farce we are forced to wittniss in general elections, the free market is the loose borders through which the neighborer stuff the country with their outdated garbages, all the money-lending governmnet banks, like the Bank-e Zeraati (agriculture) and Bank-e Rahni (mortgage), are closed and the people are told to go to Kabul Bank! it is a free market after all. Privatization is selling the government properties under-priced to your brothers….
It’s more than one year that I’m in Canada, I don’t see anything like that in this country, they have free market, they have a capitalist system, they are privatizing the public services, but also they have the laws and regulations for all these. Libraries are full of law books, they have rules for literally anything, and they enforce these laws. Afghanistan comparing to Canada, looks like a wild jungle. Of course, I hate to say the west should do this and do that for us, while it’s our country and we should take care of it. But what can we do?everything is under the control of the westerners particularly Americas, we can’t afford even a lunch for our solders let alone anything else. An american private can order an Afghan general, Karzai looks like a lazy first-grader in front of the principle, when meets a US official, we are a colonized country, even though they don’t write such in newspapers. Thus, I expect the westerners to take responsibly for most of the problems we have now in the sectors of governance and economy in Afghanistan.
I think the west namely the US, should have taught us the rules before pushing us into the game. We are playing the games we don’t know the rules, those few who know the rules, keep fooling the nation and manipulating the entire system.
I am not against privatization, in some cases and circumstances I find it very helpful, like the Kabul’s solid garbage collection, but we have to set the rules first.