PESHAWAR, Dec 12: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will utilise Rs1.13 billion on establishing the first autonomous civic body of the country in Peshawar for providing water and sanitation services to people in urban areas.

The new body, Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP), would be a public limited company owned by the government, according to sources. The proposed company will be responsible to provide services of water supply, solid waste management and sewerage and drainage in the urban areas, they said.

The registration of the proposed civic body was in progress, under the Companies Ordinance 1984, with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

When contacted, Provincial Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Department Inayatullah Khan told Dawn that the proposed body would be formed soon. “We will try to accelerate efforts and hold official meetings for formation of the civic body,” the minister said.

All the sanitation staff currently working in the Municipal Corporation Peshawar (MCP) would join the company on deputation with job protection to them like other government employees, he said.

Once operationalised the MCP would become the first municipal corporation in Pakistan to have urban water and sanitation service delivered by a fully autonomous and professionally managed corporate government utility, sources said.

They said that Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Quetta had semi-autonomous agencies providing civic services.

The proposed civic body would cover the urban areas in MCP and Peshawar Development Authority (PDA), they said. It would also coordinate with the Cantonment Board Peshawar for providing services in some areas in cantonment.

The sources said that initially the WSSP would provide services to the existing estimated 1.6 million population of urban union councils. They said that the 33 peri-urban union councils having estimated population of 1.15 million would be included gradually at a later stage though such areas would remain part of the planning.

They said that the WSSP company had been designed as an integrated organisation with key functions of planning, designing, construction and policy matters at the head office, while its operations would be decentralised to the zonal level.

The major procurement of machinery and equipment and promotions of employees, their inter-zonal transfer and behaviours change communication programmes etc would be done at the head office level, they said.

The sources said that the city and peri-urban areas had been divided into four zones. The zonal offices would be responsible for the quality of services, complaint redressal, repairs, operations of machinery and vehicles and revenue collection.

Every zone would have at least one peripheral customer care centre, in addition to the one at the zonal office.

The existing 3,700 sanitation staff would work in the proposed WSSP on deputation without any layoffs. However, since there is hardly any managerial or professional staff available with the existing civic bodies, the same would be hired afresh on market based salaries to be organised into a modern organisational structure on performance based contracts.

As the current services were being subsidised by the MCP, PDA and CBP to the extent of Rs925 million annually, it has been proposed that the WSSP would continue with the subsidy for at least three years, they said.

The proposed company would improve revenue collection by reducing the gap between the billing and collection, they said.