Post Office doing CSR and Water Board leaking | Daily News


Post Office doing CSR and Water Board leaking

NWSDB Headquarters
NWSDB Headquarters

Both the Postal Department and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board are Government or Semi-Government organisations. It is acknowledged that the inefficiency and the corruption at Government institutions is one of the primary drawbacks of Sri Lanka’s economic progress.

Without elaborating further, let me recount the factual details of two experiences I had with the above named institutions.

On Monday, October 5, I was delighted to learn that our Post Offices islandwide were doing a community project (Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR) where they were collecting electric and electronic waste (used material) which presumably were to be recycled. Aware of the environmental and other damage (including health) these discarded material can cause if carelessly discarded, I eagerly seized the opportunity to participate in a useful project.

I didn’t have much electronic equipment save for an old CD player and some knickknacks like old telephone chargers. They were rather old and had gathered a lot of dust. With difficulty I put them into bags and took them to the Post Office down Dickmans Road, Colombo 5. To my surprise nobody at the Post Office seemed to have heard of the project. Finally, a female officer turned up who told me that my electronic garbage will have to be taken to the rear of the building. When I drove to the rear of the post office again there was no sign of any such collecting going on. On further inquiry a young officer came forward and very officially told me that I will have to write my name, address and NIC number on a file before handing in the material. Perhaps a thank you note was coming to me from the post office for participating in their project! After this discouraging formality I was directed inside the post office. There is no requirement to provide personal information at the front post office which has hundreds coming in daily.

Community-oriented project

This is the first time I have experienced a community-oriented project where the volunteers had to undergo a kind of official scrutiny before handing over garbage. The Post Office was inviting the public to hand over their electronic discards. We were helping the Post Office to make a success of their project and also helping to keep the country clean and safe.

I was disappointed at this approach to a community project and when I expressed my views one of the employees there said these were the instructions from their superiors. The fact that I had left the safety of my home to help in their community project did not register on him at all.

At a Post Office.

It did not seem like a community project in that sense. They were only officiating there. We, the public were clients to be treated with an air of bumptious superiority. All the carrying of the garbage bags (which I had taken in my car) was done by me.

The CSR project has challenged their routine and they simply didn’t know the meaning of a community project. And as postal clerks, their job is intellectual, they are too high for any physical exertion, it seemed.

A failed CSR effort by people who have no charity in their make-up.

Then, a few months back, there were some official looking persons making strange markings on my front wall (without any permission). When I inquired they told me they were from the Water Board. The Water Board had decided to install new water meters outside of residences, so as to make life easier for their Meter Readers.

Then, for several months nothing happened. The mark had nearly disappeared from the wall, when suddenly a work gang appeared and dug a biggish hole near the water connection on the roadside. Again a few weeks went by and the hole was flooded with rain water.

Eventually, one day my pipe-borne water was suddenly cut off. When I looked outside, I saw a work gang working near the hole dug weeks ago. They were connecting the new water meter. The work took nearly one whole day. At one point the workers disappeared for a few hours. There was no water at all in the house. It was only towards the late evening that the work was over and the water supply reconnected.

New water meter

I now had a new water meter installed on the road side, outside the wall. About two weeks ago I noticed a large spray of water from the meter.

On closer examination I realized that the water was leaking from a joint by the meter. It was late evening so I waited until the next morning to inform the NWSDB Area Engineer (Kirulapone). To my relief, he acted promptly and sent a team to examine the leak.

They repaired it and told me that this was a regular occurrence with the new water meters. Obviously whoever got and did the contract for the new water meters had used inferior material including faulty joints which gave way after a few weeks.

Government contracts are notorious for their corruption. Can contractors be allowed to get away cheating the Government as well as inconveniencing the public in this manner? Are there no quality guarantees in such work contracts?

Over to you Water Board.

We the public can only write about these things. It is for the authorities to take note and address these obvious failings.