The agency demanded proper observance of law and transparency in appointing top posts in Dhaka Wasa to ensure good governance
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has called for a completely impartial inquiry into the questionable appointment and continued re-appointment of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority’s (DWASA) current managing director.
The agency said there had been irregularities and corruption in such appointments in the past.
TIB also demanded proper observance of the law and ensuring transparency in the appointment of managing directors to all contractual posts in Dhaka Wasa to control corruption.
If necessary, the law needs to be reformed to stop unwanted influence and interference -- specially to ensure good governance by overcoming the long-cherished monopolistic domination in the management of this institution, said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman in a statement on Monday.
He said: “After the controversial appointment of the current managing director of Dhaka Wasa in 2009, he has been in charge for 11 consecutive years for five consecutive terms in a questionable process.
“According to media reports and other reliable sources, every time he has renewed his appointment, there has been some violation of law and order. Even at the time of first appointment the concerned ministry issued documented instructions to take precaution in the next appointment on the allegation of irregularities.
“Even then, sometimes by increasing the age limit, sometimes by replacing the recent board meeting’s recommendation with an expired one from an earlier meeting, the reappointment was cleared by the ministry -- a decision imposed by an influential quarter -- while the board's opinion was not taken into account, “ said Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
“This is not only a clear violation of the law, but also an example of the institutionalization of a culture of abuse of power and collusion, ” he added.
By mentioning the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority Act, 1996, Dr Iftekharuzzaman further said: “According to the law, Dhaka Wasa Board has been given various powers including policy formulation, appointment of managing director, and deputy managing director.
“However, the appointment of the managing director was directly done by the ministry in 2013 without a final decision of the board. Despite the board's disapproval, the ministry confirmed his reappointment following the expired recommendation of the 198th board meeting in 2012.
“According to the law, the board has to finalize the candidates and send them to the ministry for approval. However, even in 2016, without the recommendation of the board, the appointment was directed by the ministry,” said the agency’s executive director.
Several allegations of irregularities and corruption
Complaints in this regard, which have also been raised in various media outlets, have been mentioned in TIB's research report titled "Dhaka Wasa: Challenges of good governance and ways to overcome it."Even then, his appointment has been finalized every time by an invisible power -- violating the law repeatedly.
Meanwhile, there are allegations from the organization’s board that there is no example of activity and effectiveness in fulfilling the role assigned and expected from him. There is a lot of concern among the officials and employees of this organization that even the board is in the hands of the top official due to conflict of interest, he added.
Citing its research report, TIB said that during the tenure of the current managing director, several allegations of unprecedented irregularities and corruption in the implementation of many small and large projects and at the service level have been raised against Dhaka Wasa, and some of the issues are under investigation.
The executive director of TIB said: “Before the last extended term of the current managing director expires on October 14, 2020, the appointment of a new managing director with qualifications and experience in the relevant sector should be completed in a transparent manner.
“At the same time, a complete impartial audit of the questionable appointment and continued re-appointment of the current managing director for the welfare of the organization and its beneficiaries must be completed.”
In addition, Wasa officials at all levels should be held accountable for irregularities and corruption by properly investigating assets that are inconsistent with their legitimate income, he added.
TIB hopes that the Local Government Department, Dhaka Wasa, and all the concerned authorities will take appropriate steps to make Dhaka Wasa a more service-oriented, customer-friendly, and effective organization.