Whether the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Corporation (Dawasco) has had enough time after enjoying its Christmas sleep to be in a position to skim through this commentary – and learn something from it that will jolt it into noticeable action – is anyone’s guess.
After all, effective listening is an art one in which can decide to hone one’s skills for effect and heeding advice is often essentially a matter of choice.
Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler Corporation, is credited with having once quipped: “I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realise that real communication goes in both directions.”
Now, on the carpet for the purposes of this piece is Dawasco,
whose vision is to grow into a world-class water utility, whose mission is to provide quality and affordable water and sewerage services exceeding customers’ expectations through well motivated staff, and whose motto is ‘Our customer, our employment’.
We are discussing a public service agency whose self-avowed core values include honesty, efficiency, transparency, team work, accountability and generally being ‘customer-focused’.
But anyone with a clear enough picture of the state of water supply and sewage disposal in the country’s commercial capital of over four million people knows for a fact that it is by no means in consonance with the said vision, mission, motto and core values.
It is common knowledge that the agency has come to known more for failure to deliver as expected than for being on top of things where and when it matters most, that is, admitting that it is overwhelmed in part owing to internal deficiencies including the very core values it associates itself with as part of its public relations drive.
The corporation may be telling the truth – and nothing but the truth – in blaming the mess on such factors as equipment and infrastructure having outlived their usefulness, but would it really be telling the whole truth?
For instance, what do technical faults in water purification and distribution chains have to do with the countless cases of Dawasco offices being notified about illegal water connections and leaking pipes but not doing a thing about it for years on end and yet continuing to inundate customers with inflated bills or posting bills to people it has not served for as long?
Descending upon one or two presumed offenders may inspire the agency into believing that it is engaging in commendable intervention, but the truth remains that a lot more ought to be done to rectify matters.
For starters, under a new phase of the true spirit of corporate social responsibility, Dawasco ought to seriously consider strictly ensuring fairness to all its customers by heeding public appeals for fair play.
Dawasco may dispute this, but most members of the public are disillusioned with the agency’s level of efficiency and are convinced that it is giving the hundreds of thousands of it “ordinary” customers a very raw deal.
Our humble advice: Dawasco must put its house in order – and the sooner, the better for all concerned.