Four officials of Chattogram WASA including the managing director AKM Fazlullah are going on a US trip. The group includes an additional secretary of the local government ministry as well. They were scheduled to leave on a flight from Shahjalal International Airport on Thursday night.

To reduce pressure on foreign exchange reserves because of the current global situation, the finance ministry issued a circular on last 12 May to stop foreign visits for the government officials unless there is any special requirement. Government officials are being repeatedly instructed from the top level of the government too, to halt their foreign visits.

As per Chattogram WASA sources, the officials on the trip to the US are AKM Fazlullah, managing director of Chattogram WASA, Md Shamsul Alam, deputy managing director (Finance), Makhsud Alam chief engineer and Mohammad Mahabubul Alam, director and supervising engineer of Bhandaljuri Water Supply Project.

They also have Md Khairul Islam, additional secretary (water supply wing) of local government division with them. Basically they are visiting US to purchase equipment for the Bhandaljuri Water Supply Project. The project is supposed to end in September this year.

Speaking to Prothom Alo about the visit, project director Mohammad Mahbubul Alam said they are going to US for pre-shipment inspection and to inspect the factory before purchasing the equipment. There will be training on different issues related to water disinfection.

How the disinfecting machine works will be shown too. Approval for the visit has been taken from the local government ministry. Besides, there’s approval from the prime minister’s office as well, he added

Mohammad Mahbubul Alam said, “The government or WASA won’t have to bare any additional cost for this visit. We are just going to inspect the the equipment before making the purchase. All costs will be borne by the contractor company.” However, he didn’t disclose the exact costs being incurred. The contractor company for this project is ‘Taeyoung E and C’.

Foreign tours are nothing new for Chattogram WASA officials. Officials travel abroad in almost every project. Chattogram WASA officials had caused controversy by going on a visit to Uganda in 2019.

That time, 27 officials and employees of WASA had been on a visit to Uganda, a poor country in east-central Africa for ‘training’. They were accompanied by 14 other officials of different ministry and offices. Some members from the WASA board itself had raised questions about the visit.

About the foreign visit despite government's instructions, Makshud Alam, chief engineer of Chattogram WASA said to Prothom Alo, they were going to US with government's approval to look at the equipment that are being bought for disinfecting water.

According to WASA sources, the Bhandaljuri Water Supply Project was launched in October 2015 at a cost of around Tk 20 billion to provide safe and potable water to various residential areas as well as government and private industries along the left bank of Karnaphuli River in Chattogram. The project is expected to be completed in September this year.