The curious case of a study tour
We are surprised to learn about the curious timing of an upcoming "study tour" by Dhaka Wasa's embattled Managing Director Taqsem A Khan. According to a report, he left for the United States on September 24 for a six-week vacation. However, while still on leave, he will go on a six-day study tour to Japan, possibly from October 2 to 7. During this visit, he will also be in charge of Wasa, according to an order issued by the Local Government Division. Among others who will accompany him are LGRD Minister Tajul Islam and an executive engineer of Dhaka Wasa. We wonder what could be the rationale behind his selection in an official tour while on leave. Also, can one be on leave and still in charge of an institution, as he will be during that time? These clearly circumvent existing norms and processes.
Over the years, foreign trips by government officials have become a rather pointless exercise since, more often than not, these trips or study tours have brought no result whatsoever.
Moreover, in the government order, there has been no mention of what education the LGRD minister and Wasa MD will acquire during their visit to Japan. Reportedly, Dhaka Wasa will construct five sewage treatment plants around the capital as per its master plan. The Asian Development Bank will finance one of these plants and is funding the Japan trip as well. Sources say that through the Japan trip, the participants are supposed to learn how a sewage treatment plant under the jurisdiction of Tokyo Metropolitan's Bureau of Suarez is constructed as well as its working process. So, this trip might actually be helpful for officials who would implement the project. But whether those who are going on this trip are the right persons for this training is the question.
Over the years, foreign trips by government officials have become a rather pointless exercise since, more often than not, these trips or study tours have brought no result whatsoever. Earlier this year, the government decided to stop foreign trips of officials as part of its austerity measures considering the economic crisis of the country. But this directive was hardly followed by the government agencies concerned. Even though the upcoming Japan trip will be funded by the ADB – not the government – we can still question its necessity as it is not clear how the project to be funded by the ADB will be benefitted by this trip. We have previously seen how such expensive foreign tours have turned into nothing but "gifts" handed to well-connected government officials.
Dhaka Wasa is currently drowned in a sea of problems with corruption and irregularities becoming the norm in this institution. At a time like this, we think its MD and other responsible officials of the state should be careful about what they do or where they go and how. Expensive foreign trips, despite an ongoing ban, should not be encouraged at all at this juncture.