If it were a patient, Blantyre Water Board (BWB) would have been a hopeless terminal case destined for expiry, to use medical parlance and so it is dismaying that the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) would give such a body a rating of 40 percent for merely distributing water in bowsers in locations around the city to cover for persistent dry taps.
This is over generosity on the part of Cama because, if we go by Cama’s rating and BWB were a University of Malawi student, it would be awarded a degree which would be a sick joke, in my view.
The reality of the matter is that BWB is a worst example of how Malawians are suffering as a result of rampant ineptitude, laziness, corruption and indifference displayed by those earning millions to manage public entities but choose to do something else to feed their selfish motives.
Over the years, Malawians have complained times without number against the abuse of BWB resources and how it eventually affects the service it renders to the residents of Blantyre.
Successive governments have used BWB resources for purely partisan interests such as ferrying women in its vehicles to distant places so they could wiggle their waists at presidential functions.
Report after report has shown how messed the board is with the latest showing how management presided over illegal procurement of materials that may have siphoned out hundreds of millions of kwachas after bypassing the company’s Internal Procurement Committee to handpick suppliers and contractors to supply goods or carry out works at suspicious rates.
In other instances the top brass at the board has cancelled and proceeded to award jobs to firms that never put out any bids.
This has gone on for years and the board forgot to service its machines and upgrade its infrastructure to match the growing demand of the city.
Today the board is stripped to the bare bones.
I have it on good authority that while donors have pumped money to modernise BWB’s pumping stations, its rotten distribution system, due to years of neglect, cannot cope with the new pressure hence the constant bursts of pipes that is leaving Blantyre residents constantly in search of water instead of being productive at whatever they do.
Now Cama tell me, on what basis do you award a good 40 percent to such a rotten and slovenly incompetent institution that is making innocent consumers pay for its ineptitude and corruption? Merely because it is moving water bowsers here and there in the city?
Shouldn’t the question be: How come we have reached this far?
The talk in the corridors of power these days, championed by Vice-President Saulos Chilima, is public sector reform.
I beseech government that these reforms should not stop at nipping the rot only in the civil service. They should extend to parastatals such as BWB which is crying out for reforms from the general manager to the cleaner.
But BWB is not alone. It just typifies the rot in public service in this country and sadly, it is the consumer that pays the ultimate price.
But there should be a point when we should all say enough is enough and for the BWB, it was said long time ago.
Cama has no business giving such a rotten organisation any decent evaluation for anything. BWB has caused enough distress to residents of Blantyre City.