Taqsem A Khan set to get another term as WASA MD

Dhaka WASA MD Taqsem A KhanFile photo

Taqsem A Khan, the managing director of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA), is set to be reappointed to his position for another three-year term.

The WASA board approved the proposal for his reappointment in a meeting on Tuesday, according to several board members.

The proposal will now proceed to the local government ministry, after which a summary will be forwarded to the prime minister's office. The appointment will be finalised after receiving the prime minister's approval.

Taqsem assumed the position of WASA MD in 2009. Since then, his term has been extended five times, and his current sixth term is set to end on 14 October.

His monthly salary has jumped by a staggering 421 percent over the past 12 years. Currently, he receives a salary of Tk 625,000 per month. He was awarded a whopping Tk 175,000 increment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision on his reappointment has sparked criticism due to numerous complaints of corruption and irregularities against him.

Aktar Mahmud, former president of the Bangladesh Institute of Planners, said there have been some improvements in water supply under Taqsem's leadership, but no sustainable system could be established, and the sewage system remains inadequate.

"He did not deliver any outstanding performance that would warrant his reappointment for three more years. Also, it is traditionally discouraged to remain in the same position for a long period as it hinders others' opportunities and way of new leadership," he added.

Mozammel Haque, president of the Dhaka WASA Officers-Employees Union, slammed the decision on Taqsem's reappointment. He said the WASA board, as per the rules, should not recommend an extension of his tenure as several cases against Taqsem are now pending at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). It is unethical and supportive of corruption.

On the condition of anonymity, a WASA board member who attended the meeting said the board chairman, Sujit Kumar Bala, strongly recommended the extension of Taqsem's tenure. He attempted to convince other members about Taqsem's importance and efficiency.

Some board members suggested appointing a new managing director through a circular. However, the chairman favoured extending the current MD's term instead of opting for a new one, he added.

Sujit Kumar Bala could not be reached over the phone for comment. A woman received the call and said he went outside, keeping the mobile phone.