LAHORE: The Board of Directors (BoD) of the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) -- city’s premier state-owned entity responsible for solid waste collection and disposal -- has unanimously agreed to pursue its conversion into an authority (Lahore Waste Management Authority).

The BoD at a meeting held on Thursday decided to pursue the case (conversion of the LWMC into an authority) with the quarters concerned after getting the requisite draft, already sent to the government, reviewed and endorsed by the board’s technical and legal committees, according to an official source privy to the meeting.

“It was a major issue on agenda that was discussed at length at the BoD meeting on Thursday. The members asked the LWMC management to explain benefits of making the company an authority. The management briefed the members in detail, stating it would help in making the city more clean with increased autonomy and enforcement powers,” the official told Dawn.

“The members reached a consensus that the company should be made an authority (like LDA, RUDA, PHA etc) since it has also turned into dealing with all operational affairs directly,” the official added.

The Local Government & Community Development department in August last (during tenure of then LG&CD department secretary Noorul Amin Mengal) had finalised a draft for the Lahore Waste Management Authority (LWMA) Act-2021. Under the proposed draft act, the LWMC was proposed to be made an authority (LWMA) -- an autonomous state-owned entity having powers of framing by-laws, rules and regulations and their enforcement, imposition of cleanliness tax, major and minor penalties etc to deal with cleanliness issues in a more effective way.

The need to make the LWMC an authority arose after the department reached a consensus that the company couldn’t run with limited powers of levying fees, registering and licensing and weak enforcement capability. Currently, only regular employees of the MCL (Metropolitan Corporation Lahore) can be notified as enforcement inspectors and not the company officers / officials. Similarly, the power of hiring and firing of notified LWMC inspectors is still with the MCL and there is confusion due to dual chain of command.

Moreover, public acceptance of the company levying fees is also low.

According to the draft, the formation of the LWMA will empower board/authority and the chief executive officer (CEO) / managing director, enable the organisation to make comprehensive policies and regulations, develop strong enforcement skills, ensure provision of special magistrate to try cases for penalty and define powers of enforcement inspector. Under the draft, the LWMA will have an independent authority fund for sustainability, a singular chain of command with hiring and firing powers resting with it for all regular and in-sourced employees and shift to basic pay scales to reduce salary bills (contractual hiring will remain in place as in other authorities).

The authority, if made, would have powers to formulate standards, procedures, process and guidelines for collection, disposal and management of the solid waste, levy fees for registration, licensing, collection and disposal of solid waste and other services, impose collection and disposal fee on private housing schemes for collection from societies and regulate persons engaged in collection of waste.

It will also have adequate powers to procure machinery, equipment or material, grant a service contract for waste collection and constitute committees for performing specific functions of the authority.

Moreover, under the draft act, an enforcement inspector may take action in case of serious threat to the public health, safety, welfare or danger to life, property and environment in his area of jurisdiction. In addition to imposition of fine or initiating prosecution, the inspector will have power to suspend any work and seize the goods, provided that no inspector shall enter any residential premises without the permission of the occupier or owner or court.

“During the BoD meeting, the members sought current status of the draft act. They were told that it was moved by the company to the department concerned (LGCDD) for approval and onward submission to the law department and cabinet for final approval. The members directed the management to pursue, check where it is stuck at the moment, remove the bottlenecks and get it processed and approved quickly,” the official explained.

Meanwhile, in a press release, the LWMC said the board also decided to impose a ban on the transfer / posting of town managers, zonal officers, supervisors and other operational staff till further orders. The ban on transfer / posting has been imposed to improve the efficiency of operational staff.

Further, the Board also decided to rationalise the prices of eco-friendly compost “Belia” produced at the LWMC compost plant. It approved increase in the price of a bag weighing 5kg compost from Rs45 to Rs80.

“It is the need of the hour to make the company an authority to benefit the city of Lahore more from the modern facilities,” said Atif Chaudhry, LWMC BoD chairman, while presiding over the meeting.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2022

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