In an interview with Bulsho TV, the Manager of Hargeisa Water Agency Mr. Mohamed Ali Darod was asked about the 50 dollar water meter his agency has recently mandated. This is the first time Mr. Darod has spoken on the issue since the agency sent letters to its customers informing them that they must purchase the new water meter inside three months.

In a response to a question of what necessitated the new water meters, he stated that it is part of the agency’s efforts to modernize its operations and move to an accurate meter reading as well as simplifying the arduous process of meter reading for its staff,  and added that the new meter will completely eliminate the need to physically reach each and every meter, and the need to access customers’ homes.

He added that the source of friction between the water agency and its customers is the low quality of the previously imported water meters.

Mr. Darod’s answers about the water meters were inline with the notice his agency has sent its customers in which it explained the benefits of the new meters including the new water meter’s accuracy to eliminate erroneous meter readings.

The first reason the agency listed in its letter is that the new water meter will eliminate the guess or estimate-based water reading.

On the price of the meter, Mr. Darod characterized it as a recurring debate and that customers have two options, to purchase the meter outright or to work out a payment plan to spread the 50 dollar cost over months depending on what one can afford, but quickly ended the discussion of the price of the meter as not important and said “development is not free” before going back to describing how the new meters will be beneficial to both the public and its employees.

The reporter asked a follow up question regarding the difference of the new meter to the ones the agency’s customers are already using.

Mr. Darod stated that the new meter is based on modern technology and the way his agency currency functions is outdated, and that water agencies from other countries have moved on, in that the most important aspect is to ensure “customers are not bothered and no one is knocking on their doors everyday” before once again explaining that it will make his staff’s job easier to read the meters remotely and it is ultimately a lot more accurate than the existing meters.

Mr. Darod has denied allegations that the meter is a project awarded to well connected private citizens and stated that the agency has not awarded a contract to anyone and that it has acquired the meters directly from Italy – one of the largest suppliers of water meters in Europe before saying: “At the end the day no one can say a contract was awarded to someone, as government agencies are not always mandated to award a contract and in order to develop, government agencies must have the authority to execute their programs and the water agency is one of those”.

Asked if his agency is working directly with the manufacturer, Mr. Darod responded “Absolutely”.

Legal cases against lawyers who questioned the legality of the water agency’s new meter did not come up in Bulsho TV’s interview with the Manager of Hargeisa Water Agency Manager Mr. Mohamed Ali Darod.

The Horizon Institute recently issued a scathing report about the conduct of the Chairman of Regional Court of Marodijeh Hon. Abdi Qawdhan, who issued an arrest warrant for one lawyer and disbarred another for a year.

The Horizon Institute also called upon the High Judicial Council, the body with the responsibility to discipline the judiciary to immediately review and dismiss the unlawful arrest warrant of one lawyer and disbarment of another for a year by the Chairman of Regional Court of Marodijeh Hon. Abdi Qawdhan Abdi,  and to suspend him from all duties pending the immediate investigation of his professional conduct.

The current water expansion project of Hargeisa is being funded by the German development bank KfW.

The current project was awarded 23.55 million Euros.

This article first appeared in the Somaliland Chronicle and is republished with permission

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