The appointment of Pakistan Peoples Party’s MPA Owais Muzaffar as the chairperson of the Karachi Water Sewerage Board (KWSB) has come as a surprise to many, including members of the opposition parties in Sindh Assembly.
A notification issued by the Sindh Local Government Department on Friday night reconstituted the water board by appointing its chairperson and vice-chairperson. Reacting on the development, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s opposition leader in the provincial assembly, Faisal Subzwari, recalled that the post earlier was traditionally held by the city mayor or district Nazim. “In the absence of an elected local government institution, the minister for local government used to act as the chairperson of the board,” he said. He, however, refrained from commenting further on the matter, saying that he was unclear about the rules and laws which applied in this particular appointment. “What I know is that under the Local Government Act 2001, the board was under the domain of city Nazim.”
According to Subzwari, their main concern was not who was appointed as the chairperson but the completion of the K-IV project. “We also want immediate action to solve the water crises in the city by taking action against the illegal hydrants.” Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Imtiaz Shaikh was also not sure about the particular law for appointing the chairperson of the KWSB but made it clear that if found unlawful, the party would oppose it.
According to the local government secretary, Ali Ahmed Lund, who issued the notification of Muzaffar’s appointment, the chief minister has the powers as the chief executive of the province to nominate an elected representative as chairperson of the board. Lund has been appointed as the vice-chairperson of KWSB.
“This is not the first time that we have appointed an MPA to head the board’s affairs,” he said.
Unlawful for some, welcomed by others
Former city Nazim, Niamatullah Khan, who had also served as the chairperson of KWSB, called Muzaffar’s appointment illegal and a violation of the rules. “No one but the mayor or local government minister can be made the chairperson of the water board,” he insisted. “The KWSB Act of 1996 does not allow the appointment of a MPA as the chairperson. In the absence of an elected local government system, the minister of the department can be given this slot.” The KWSB Managing Director Misbahuddin Farid, however, welcomed the appointment of Muzaffar and said that it was a good decision on part of the government. “He is a capable man and we hope he will be able to fix the problems being faced by the water board,” he said, stressing that MPAs of Sindh were eligible to hold the post.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2013.