Several senior officials have termed this duality as abnormal and contrary to administrative discipline.
Since 27 April, Taqsem A Khan has been on three months' leave for medical treatment and to meet his relatives in the US. The leave order of WASA MD was issued by the local government ministry on 16 March. The order granted a three-month leave to the MD from 20 March to 19 June.
The order further said, during this time WASA director (development) will perform the routine duties as the MD. However, the order did not mention anything regarding Taqsem A Khan performing the duties of MD from the US.
According to WASA officials, director Abul Kashem is signing documents as the MD daily. On the other hand, Taqsem A Khan is taking part in various meetings virtually. He is also signing various papers through e-documents.
On 31 May, Abul Kashem signed a bill of a telephone operator as the MD. He also signed a document regarding the wage of a retired WASA worker on 16 June.
On 6 July, Taqsem A Khan signed a draft office order as the MD regarding vacating the space of Dhaka WASA Multipurpose Co-operative Society located in the building of WASA. He also took part in the 279th board meeting of WASA held on 6 May as the MD.
Seeking anonymity, several officials of Dhaka WASA told Prothom Alo that the situation is like having two parallel governments in one state. Taqsem A Khan is signing the more important papers and Abul Kashem Khan is signing comparatively less important papers. Having two MDs at the same time in an important organisation is unprecedented.
Taqsem was appointed to this post in 2009. He has been holding this post since then. He has been reappointed in phases despite being highly criticised for the poor qualities of civic service and various controversies.
On 1 October last year, his appointment as the WASA MD for the sixth time was approved. There were allegations of irregularities every time he was reappointed.
In reply to a question in writing regarding having the two acting MDs at the same time, Golam Mostafa, chairman of Dhaka WASA Board, told Prothom Alo that with the approval of the board, Taqsem A Khan is acting as the MD from the US through “telehome service”. Where the MD needs to be physically present, director Abul Kashem is representing the MD and performing routine duties if necessary.
Taqsem A Khan is on leave with the permission of the local government ministry. When asked about this, board chairman Golam Mostafa said the ministry can elaborate more in detail about this. In his reply in writing he further said, “Dhaka WASA is running smoothly. There is no problem in running this organisation. The problem lies only with the journalists.”
Speaking to Prothom Alo regarding this, additional secretary (water supply) of the Local Government Division, Muhammad Ibrahim said, “According to the order from the ministry, WASA director (development) Abul Kashem in acting as the managing director of WASA. We are contacting Abul Kashem.”
However, before going abroad, Taqsem A Khan announced himself as the “online MD” through an office order. That office order further said during his stay abroad, he will be acting as the MD during taking any policy making decision and other matters.
A question was sent to Taksim's WhatsApp number for his comments on doing duties even during the holidays. But he did not reply. Director (Development) Abul Kashem, who is in charge of the routine duties, was contacted on his mobile phone but did not pick up the phone.
Former additional secretary Mohammad Firoz Mia, an expert in the service rules of government employees, told Prothom Alo, Taqsem A Khan cannot sign any document while on leave. If he does so, there will be two issues - whether he is not on leave anymore or his signing is illegal. And Abul Kashem, who is in charge of the routine duties, cannot sign any papers regarding any financial matters.
*This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu