Dhaka WASA, tasked to oversee 360 kilomtres of the metropolitan's 2300-kilometre water sewerage system, spent at least Tk 5.23 billion in the last 10 years to address waterlogging in the city. However, the suffering of the city dwellers make us wonder how the money was spent.
It is crystal clear that if the funds were properly utilised, the city dwellers would not have suffered this way. The then mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation and the WASA managing director publicly debated on the issue in 2017. The mayor had termed the WASA a failure, which the MD did not agree to. Over a year later, the city was submerged after just a 45-minute rain.
Dhaka WASA is also responsible for providing the city dwellers with safe drinking water. There have been countless complaints about their failure to do that properly, too. Their managing director even refused to drink a glass of sherbet made with that water. It is true that supplying water and maintaing the sewerage system are different. But the organisation has failed on both the fronts.
The city's over 15 million people cannot be held hostage by an organisation. The DSCC mayor wants the city's sewerage system to be controlled by a single authority. But questions may arise as to how effectively he is performing his own duties. The DNCC mayor has said that the city corporation and the WASA need to work in unison, adding that 'a dual system brings mismanagement'. Lack of skilled staff and coordination along with corruption make the situation worse.
In 2015, we expressed our concern over the WASA spending over Tk 3 billion in the previous four years. We wrote that the people pay taxes to get service, not to throw the money down the drain. Four years later we know that they have spent over Tk 2.25 billion more. People's suffering, on the other hand, has only increased. Experts say a 50 milemetre rain would not cause waterlogging in the city even 2-3 years back. But on Tuesday only 35 milemetre rain left the city under water. This is sad, because the WASA got further funds to make sure the city doesn't get waterlogged after heavy rain.
They have spent Tk 450 million in the last 15 months and yet the city suffers from waterlogging. We believe there should be an investigation to check how the money was spent. The present managing director has been in the chair for almost a decade. With so much corruption going on, how can he still be there at the helm?