LAHORE: After just five months, the Punjab government has removed Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) Managing Director (MD) Khalid Nazir Wattoo, replacing him with Muhammad Ajmal Bhatti.

“The outgoing MD was not comfortable with the government on various operational issues of the company. He was also very conscious about the action taken against former MDs in various cases initiated by the National Accountability Bureau – one MD remained in jail for a couple of months and was later released on bail. Another is currently in prison and another is abroad due to the ongoing accountability process. That’s why he avoided entertaining politicians’ directions, as he considered them against merit,” an official source in the company explained to Dawn on Saturday.

In the last couple of months, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Saleha Saeed would issue directions to Mr Wattoo through letters regarding various operational matters. This irritated him and he called her behaviour harsh and unethical. “This invited the ire of the DC, who directed her team members (all five assistant commissioners) to start visiting the city, check presence of the sanitary staff and send reports with pictures and videos to her daily,” the official claimed.

Eventually, Mr Wattoo responded to the letters and snubbed the DC for using the word “directed” for an official senior to her. He cited the relevant rules and laws to make his point regarding separation of their positions, adding that in light of these rules, the DC, in no capacity (even as chairperson of the company), is supposed to issue any such letter.

“When I have not addressed you in any letter containing any report, in what capacity can you direct me to submit anything and use the harsh words ‘unprofessional attitude’ addressed to the LWMC MD? If there is anything unprofessional, it is on the part of the person who has sent you the report and not me.

“Lastly, I am two years senior to you. I, in the capacity of the MD, am reporting to the secretary (local government). The use of above harsh words and use of words ‘it is directed to’ is highly unethical and without any authority. I must advise you to go to through laws/rules first and keep in mind ethics of senior and junior positions before writing such letters,” the MD warned.

The official said replacing MDs in such short spans of time and the ongoing accountability of officers had badly affected the company’s performance, adding that the government needed to think of a way to run the company professionally.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2019