Excess staff, strike hit water supply body

Kathmandu, July 18:

Staffers of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation have been on strike for the past three months, hitting drinking water supply in the capital. According to the government records, the capital is in need of 190 million litres of water daily while the government body has been able to supply only 80 to 90 million litres per day.

The water supply has been in disarray for years. After every government change, hundreds are appointed in the corporation due to political pressure. Sources said former minister of physical planning and works Gopal Man Shrestha was responsible for at least 150 appointments in the corporation.

“Over-staffing is spoiling our corporation. We have to employ more persons after every government change but there is no one to take care of the degrading distribution system,” Gautam Bahadur Amatya, the general manager of the NWSC, told this daily.

He added that the “illegal recruitment” was rampant and some of them hired on daily-wage basis were enjoying the perks reserved for those on contract.

At present, the corporation has 2,252 on its staff, of which 1,579 are permanent.

As many as 12 staffers are working on 1,000 pipelines in Nepal. “The pipeline to staffers ratio is incredibly high. Countries like Singapore, Philippines and South Korea are rendering far better service with one-third staff,” said Amatya.

Chairman of NWSC Management Board Dr Laxmi Prasad Devkota said the board needed to take the bold and unpopular decision of cutting its staff. One of the prerequisite of handing over the NWSC to private company for successful implementation of Melamchi Water Supply Corporation was laying-off “excessive” staffers.

On the other hand, the trade unions claim that it won’t be fair to “dump” those who had been working for the corporation for years.

Raj Kumar Thapa, secretary of the Joint Struggle Committee, said, “The management acted irresponsibly by not extending our friends’ contracts.”

NWSC forced shut

KATHMANDU: A joint-struggle committee of two trade unions of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation on Wednesday forced shut the office, as the management refused to extend the contract of 255-odd persons working for NWSC. Some of the trade union activists were hurt when the cops intervened while they were trying to lock the office door. — HNS