New roads (or at least newly surfaced roads) are a staple of development, e.g. this, and with good reason since they reduce barriers to market access and catalyse economic growth. Unfortunately, round here, after a few years, many new roads start to crumple into corrugations, subside around bridges and develop potholes. Two causes are blamed:
- Sloppy work by the contractor in the first place, and
- Overloaded lorries causing unnecessary strains on the highway structure.
In order to solve the second problem there are weighbridges at various points along the way to stop overloaded lorries. Unfortunately this does not work since the police are easily bribed, and one regularly sees ridiculously overloaded vehicles careening along the deteriorating roads. Overloaded lorries also pose a public safety risk, so stopping them would definitely be worth doing. However, I suspect the social engineering required to institute honest policing of traffic regulations hereabouts is a far bigger job than the structural engineering involved in building a new road. Now I am no engineer, but I wonder whether, given the overloaded lorries seem to be a fact of life out here, why don’t they build roads to withstand those loads in the first place?
Ps. I should also like to say a big “Hello!” to all my new readers courtesy of the Guardian Development site. I’m flattered to have been selected as one of their featured blogs. It’s great to see this new portal for all things developmental, and which should hopefully bring the many issues of aid and development to a wider audience. So kudos to the Guardian.