MPs irked by ‘inefficiencies’ in energy, water body operations

Members of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) were on Tuesday shocked to hear that the Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) operates without a strategic plan. 
EWSA’s board chairperson, Papius Musafiri (left), and Director General of EWSA, Ntare Karitanyi (2nd left) appear before MPs on Tuesday. (File)
EWSA’s board chairperson, Papius Musafiri (left), and Director General of EWSA, Ntare Karitanyi (2nd left) appear before MPs on Tuesday. (File)

Members of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) were on Tuesday shocked to hear that the Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) operates without a strategic plan. 

This was during a meeting between the lawmaker and EWSA officials yesterday.

The officials were appearing before PAC to explain the 80 queries about the Authority highlighted in the 2011/12 Auditor General’s report. 

During PAC hearing, it was observed that EWSA has for long been operating on the strategic plan of the Ministry of Infrastructure and that the continuous restructuring which saw the utility change from Electrogaz to RECO-RWASCO and later EWSA impacted negatively on its operations.

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PAC chairperson Juvenal Nkusi tasked the EWSA officials to explain why the unitlity lacked a strategic plan of its own to guide its activities.

The Director General of EWSA, Ntare Karitanyi, said: “It is the ministry’s strategic plan that has been driving our action plan but we are currently drafting our own strategic plan which is in line with the ongoing reforms of splitting EWSA into two companies.” 

The cabinet in October announced a split of EWSA into two companies, namely, the Energy Holding Company with a mandate of managing energy development and electricity distribution, and the Water and Sanitation Company charged with management of water resources and distribution. 

Although the officials tried to justify why they operated under the ministry’s strategic plan, PAC advised them to own up and account for the mismanagement of the institution. 

“Do not go on the defensive. It is embarrassing to operate without a strategic plan,” said MP Théoneste Karenzi. 

MP Marie Josée Kankera advised  EWSA to first complete the restructuring process before thinking about drawing  a strategic plan. 

“First finalise with the reforms and then come up with a strategic plan based on the structures of the companies,” she said. 

EWSA’s board chairperson Papius Musafiri admitted that there was dysfunctionality in the corporate governance of the utility. 

EWSA officials partly attribute the poor management and performance of EWSA to unending reforms. Following a law passed in 1999 removing the monopoly of the then Electrogaz in managing electricity and water supply, a German company, Lahmayer International was in 2003 given mandate to manage the body for five years.

The contract was, however, terminated after just two years and Electrogaz slipped back into the hands of government.

In 2008, Electrogaz was split into two agencies; Rwanda Electricity Corporation, and Rwanda Water and Sanitation Corporation.

In 2010, however, the two were merged again to form the Energy Water and Sanitation Authority.

EWSA officials tabled before PAC how these constant changes affected the performance of the utility with MPs wondering whether the latest split will make things any better. 

Among those that appeared before PAC included the former board chairperson of EWSA, Robert Bayigamba, who spoke of challenges he faced while still at the helm of the entity. 

“A lot was being done by the line ministry without the consent of the Board. Sometimes the Board would learn about certain things at a later stage yet the ministry was directly in contact with the management,” Bayigamba said. 

The new Board, say they are operating without a clear description of their duties since they are supposed to be outlined by a Prime Minister’s decree.

 

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