Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has called the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) board's proposal to reappoint its current managing director unethical and illegal.
Calling the move a means for protecting corruption, TIB said the agenda of the board meeting made it clear that, as usual, all the preparations have been made to continue the long-standing malpractice of one person-centric dominance of the organisation.
The appointment and continued reappointment of DWASA's current managing director, despite all the serious allegations of failure and irregularities against him, has turned the state's commitment to ensuring integrity in WASA – namely good governance in the country – into a farce, TIB said in a statement on Saturday.
It could be learned through media reports and other reliable sources that the special meeting of the DWASA board only mentioned the name of the current managing director and recommended his reappointment be finalised for another three-year term, TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said.
"There was no mention of whether an application was invited for the post following the rules, who applied, why they were not considered eligible, why the present managing director is the only right fit, and why it is necessary to renew the term of the same person year after year, violating rules and regulations," he added.
The woes of the people during the almost decade-long tenure of the incumbent managing director is not unknown to anyone, Iftekharuzzaman said.
Citing a TIB research report and relevant sources, he said allegations of unprecedented irregularities and corruption in the implementation of many small and large projects and at the service level have been raised against DWASA. "And some of the issues are under investigation."
"We hoped there would be a solution to that as the head of government repeatedly talked about 'zero tolerance' against corruption and the establishment of good governance by implementing a national integrity strategy," he continued.
"However, the way things are moving now, we can no longer express our frustration. We are now ashamed to talk about integrity or good governance at Wasa," Iftekharuzzaman said.
Expressing deep concern over the corruption in the organisation and its protectors, he called on the concerned ministry and higher authorities to avoid this path.
"After the disputed appointment of the current managing director of DWASA in 2009, he has been in charge for 11 consecutive years, for five consecutive terms, in a questionable process. There has been some violation of rules and regulations every time his appointment has been renewed, according to media reports and other reliable sources," he said.
"Even at the time of his first appointment, on the allegation of irregularities, the concerned ministry issued documented instructions to take precautions during the next appointment," he added.
However, sometimes by increasing the age limit, replacing the recent board meeting's recommendation with an expired one from an earlier meeting, the reappointment was cleared with the support of an influential quarter while the board's opinion was ignored, Iftekharuzzaman said.
"This is not only a clear violation of the law but also an example of the institutionalisation of a culture of abuse of power and collusion," he said.
The appointment of a new managing director, with qualifications and experience in the relevant sector, should be completed transparently before the last extended term of the current managing director expires on October 14, 2020, the TIB executive director said.
"Also, a complete impartial audit into the questionable appointment and continued reappointment of the current managing director will have to be completed for the welfare of the organisation and its beneficiaries," he continued.
And, Wasa officials of all levels will have to be held accountable for irregularities and corruption. Their assets that are not consistent with legitimate income will have to be properly investigated, he added.