As Britain’s own transport infrastructure grinds to a halt, the foreign aid spending watchdog revealed taxpayers have spent £265 million on a new roads corridor in Pakistan.
This was to boost road safety, upgrade its national highway infrastructure and to “strengthen private sector engagement,” according to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) report.
Some £37 million has been spent on projects in India to improve “access to better quality transport” and upgrading state and rural roads.
This is despite the fact that India has its own space programme and is planning to spend £10bn on a fleet of warships.
Other spending included £700 million fund to provide transport, water and electricity on an island the size of Birmingham on Lake Victoria in East Africa. The project included building an “all-weather road”.
UK road crumble
In the 12 months to the end of September, RAC patrols attended 14,220 breakdowns likely caused by potholes, including incidents with damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels.
The firm’s Pothole Index – which is a long-term indicator of the health of the UK’s roads – stands at 2.63, meaning drivers are more than 2.5 times as likely to suffer a pothole breakdown than they were in 2006.
It lays bare Britain’s pothole endemic, which is estimated to cost councils in England and Wales £14 billion within two years.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance warns that one in five local roads in England and Wales is in a poor condition and the frequency of road resurfacing has declined.
A recent RAC survey of 1,808 motorists found that the state of local roads is now their top overall concern, up from 33 per cent in 2017 to 42 per cent in 2018.
Two-thirds of those polled said the condition of local roads had deteriorated in the past 12 months.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “There is little doubt local road conditions in many parts of the country are substandard and have been so for quite some time.
“Data from this quarter’s RAC Pothole Index supports this, showing there has been a steady deterioration in road condition over the last 18 months with the latest quarter not showing a significant improvement.
“We cannot simply blame Storm Emma and the Beast from the East, even though they certainly made matters worse.”
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “Keeping roads safe for all users is one of the most important jobs councils do and is reflected in the fact that local authorities are fixing a pothole every 21 seconds.
“However, only long-term, consistent and fairer government investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed.
“Spending 52 times more on maintaining our national roads when very few journeys begin and end on a motorway or trunk road will only serve to help motorists reach increased delays and congestion on local roads more quickly.”
Motorist campaign group FairFuel UK said it “beggars belief” that taxpayers are paying for roads to be fixed around the world while councils in England and Wales face a £14 billion bill for repairing pothole-plagued roads.
And Tory MPs demanded ministers prioritise sorting out the chaos on Britain’s railways before spending any more on foreign transport networks.
FairFuel UK founder Howard Cox stormed: “The UK’s third world quality roads continue to be ignored and underfunded for the benefit of overseas vanity projects.
The highest taxed drivers in the world will be rightly incensed their daily battles with chronic delays, potholes and congestion are not being resolved in order to help the 7th richest nation in the world, India.”
Tory MP Philip said: “We are crying out for infrastructure improvements in the UK to boost our economy.
“Surely the Government should be spending money on those before sloshing it around the world to boost the infrastructure in other countries.”
The Sun says
But it is simply sickening to spend £4billion abroad upgrading road and rail schemes and urban infrastructure.
Look at the appalling state of OUR roads, needing a £14billion fix of their own. Look at our shambolic rail system and its creaking, crumbling infrastructure overseen by state-run Network Rail.
Look at our public finances, our deficit, our gargantuan debt. Look at the local councils facing bankruptcy.
Listen to the Government, now facing a headache over Universal Credit, insisting every penny must be made to count.
We are entitled to expect decent public services in return for our taxes. What justification can there be for hiving off billions from them to improve transport systems in Pakistan?
Or in India, which has billions for a fleet of new warships and a space programme but needs the British public’s generosity to mend its roads?
It is insane. The consequence of an idiotic law which compels us to donate billions every year no matter how dire our finances or how spurious the cause.
The Sun is all for helping the genuinely needy. But not for foolish virtue-signalling on the world stage.
It is an abuse of public funds and a cast-iron election loser.
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