Saturday, April 13, 2024

Private sector vs public sector


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AT A TIME WHEN THE ECONOMY IS UNDER PRESSURE and the Government is pushing productivity and the need for workers to be as efficient as they can be, it is interesting to compare the approach of the private sector with that of the public sector.
This comparison may be useful if public sector reform is to achieve its fullest potential, for the argument is that the private sector is more efficient in getting the job done, and the adoption of private sector initiatives in the public service would redound to the overall benefit of the economy.
Now, the Ministry of Transport and Works is a major employer of artisans and other workers who from time to time have to engage in roadworks and repairs of culverts and the like. In fact, on some occasions they also do major roadworks.
Presently they are engaged in repairs to a damaged culvert in Worthing, and traffic is congested along that busy stretch on Highway 7. Chaos or organized confusion is the order of the day morning and evening as motorists inch along on their way to work or back home.
It is unthinkable that the public should have to suffer two weeks’ congestion along a road that is busy at best and chaotically choked with traffic at worst.
For all we know, it may indeed take two weeks to do the works, but if that is a genuine estimate, then the history of the ministry in finishing works on time does not allow us to be optimistic about that deadline.
It seems clear that the work is critical and that a degree of planning has gone into some aspects of it. The Graeme Hall stream has been dammed with boulders and sand and continuous pumping of the water is taking place to avoid upstream flooding, which would cause untold problems for residents.
But it does not seem that any of this work is being done under floodlight as happened when the private sector-driven remedial works were being done at Warrens. Was this a possibility?
Given the heavy use of Highway 7, was any thought given to the use of pre-building any parts of the remedial works off site and performing on site only those aspects of the job which could only be carried out on the spot.
None of these suggestions might have been possible, but the use of adequate lighting and the payment of improved rates for work to reflect the inconvenience of working in the evening seem to be part and parcel of the planning and execution of roadwork projects on stretches of road normally in heavy use.
Perhaps the loss of productivity that follows disruption such as that on Highway 7 ought to figure more significantly when the Ministry engages on such projects, but quite often, too, the re-marking of road signs often takes place during the busy weekdays when one wonders whether any thought was given to carrying out such works during the weekend.
Consideration may already have been given to these and other ideas, but public sector reform appears absent from what is now being done along Highway 7 at Worthing. Is tweaking the system really so difficult?


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