Soon after the federal budget, the Capital Development Authority silently dropped a bombshell on the consumers in the form of a 200 percent increase in water tanker service charges. However, the precious commodity remains out of the reach of the common consumers. Earlier, the CDA used to provide one-thirds tanker at the nominal charge of Rs35 but after the announcement of the federal budget, the rate has been increased to Rs100 for the same quantity. However, the staff is not willing to provide even one-thirds tanker and, according to a tanker driver, they are asked to accommodate four or more complaints in a single tanker unofficially. The staff on tanker duty prefer those who privately request for the supply. Such requests were entertained at Rs800-1000 per one-thirds tanker till May 31, but after the increase in the charges, up to Rs2000 are being demanded for the same quantity.
Water has become a rare commodity, particularly for the residents of G-11/1 sector, as they have not been supplied water for the last more than one month and they could not even get it through CDA’s water tanker service despite standing in queues throughout the night for many nights. The G-11 complaint office starts registering complaints from five in the morning for which the consumers are required to line up outside the complaint office at midnight. There are several consumers who have been trying to get water for several days but without success. Every complaint centre registers above 500 complaints on a daily basis and water is supplied to 80 to 100 complainants only while all other complaints go ignored and the people are left with no choice but to once again line up the next midnight or grease the palms of the tanker staff.
Last month, CDA Chairman Farkhand Iqbal had ordered 15 additional private water tankers on rent so as to ensure water supply to the dwellers of the federal capital but the CDA staff still complains about shortage of tankers. The CDA seems more focused on projects such as installation of new traffic signals, replacement of existing street lights with LEDs and sodium lights, than providing the residents of Islamabad with the basic necessity of water.
Instead of hiring large trailer tankers of NLC, and those that some private companies can spare, to bring water in bulk to existing pump stations and distribute it in the normal way through the pipelines, the CDA is bringing tanker mafia to Islamabad. A CDA public service flyer tells us that tanker operators will deliver half-filled tankers to the water-thirsty citizens of Islamabad. It didn’t mention that while performing this noble deed, these tankers will ruin roads, cause traffic jams, and traffic accidents.
The purchaser will pay Rs100 and the CDA will subsidise the delivery by another Rs1000. The next step will be to make the water supply permanently dysfunctional and tanker delivery a permanent feature.