Economic, Socio-political and Environmental Risks of Road Development in the Tropics

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Through systematic, complex yet accurate researches, it can confirm and guarantee that by the year 2050, over 25 million km of newly paved roads will be developed worldwide. The number of roadways is increasing and by the projected results will bound to cover and encircle the planet more than 600 times. Approximately 90 percent of the new roads will be constructed in developing nations where a significant level of bio-diversity present along with environmental importance.

Plenty of developing nations are borrowing from international lenders by negotiating access to their natural resources to expand their infrastructure. With the given unprecedented pace along with the extent of these initiatives, it is crucial to critically assess the potential consequences of large-scale road and highway projects.

Despite the drawbacks, the construction of these new roadways can lead to sizeable economic and social benefits. However, if these plans and projects are poorly planned, implemented and executed, these new roads can provoke serious cost overruns aiding corruption and environmental damage while generating sparse economic benefits and often leading to political and intense social conflicts.

By drawing inferences and referring to examples from other developing nations, different types of risk can be identified and observed and which can hinder construction of road projects in wet and dry tropical environments. The said such risks asserted are often inadequately considered and recognized by project proponents, evaluators and by the general public forming a systematic tendency to overestimate project benefits when compared and while apprehending understating project risks. This is why a more precautionary and environmentally friendly perspective approach is needed to reduce risks while trying to maximize the benefits of new road projects in the tropics.

Road projects are however prone and susceptible to poor governance by the respecting federal departments. Poor management is particularly problematic in low to middle-income nations for which corruption can easily lure its way in to loot and exploit the opportunity. A recent study funded and found by the World Bank revealed the atrocities developing nations faced with cases and charges of fraud, corruption, and conspiracy collectively accounting for nearly US$14 billion. In on an average, per unit road development costs were almost 30 percent higher in developing and struggling nations engulfed in political conflicts. Corruption multiplies and generates from inefficiencies of each increase in 1 percent of crime increasing by 7 percent of total project costs. Specific road projects instigate severe social unrest. Community dissatisfaction can be raised from inequitable distribution of the benefits derived from the plans of road construction.

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