Five months ago, Lennox Sealy was appointed as executive director of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) with much hype, promise and even some fanfare.
Mr Sealy was touted as the man who could transform the beleaguered State utility company into a profitable and efficiently run organisation.
But on Thursday, the country was shocked to learn that Sealy had resigned with immediate effect, leaving behind dashed hopes and the prospect of a new, more efficient WASA that could finally deliver on its once-touted promise of water for all 24/7.
Line Minister Marvin Gonzales, in response to the resignation, said, “The Government felt that the transformation was not proceeding at a sufficiently rapid pace.”
If these reports are to be taken at face value, in essence, it would seem Sealy was not performing as well as was expected when it came to actually reshaping the authority.
But turning around WASA may not be as simple as recruiting an executive director, who came as highly qualified as Sealy was, having headed the region’s leading provider of management consultancy, training and personal development.
The authority, which was established three years after this country gained independence, has been plagued with numerous controversial issues and what can only be described as a history of gross mismanagement. And this is apart from the fact that there is the belief that too much external interference from governments often lead to some of the problems as well.
Recent reports into the operations at WASA revealed everything from overspending, questionable hiring practices and lack of productivity, to misbehaviour in office by management and employees.
These unseemly values have, unfortunately, become entrenched in the authority.
This is why transforming WASA is no easy task. Some may even argue that to erase such a culture, developed over so many decades and engrained in its operation, may be an impossible task with conventional management strategy.
So while Mr Sealy had accepted the mandate to devise a transformation plan and ensure it became a reality, some delay should have been anticipated given the magnitude of the task. Mr Sealy’s post as both executive director and chief executive officer may have taken away his focus from leading WASA down a new pathway.
On the other hand, reports that the former executive director became distracted and committed two major faux pas — erroneously calling on PSA president Watson Duke to resign and the authority’s ill-timed disconnection drive — cannot be ignored.
While the Government appears to be committed to building a new WASA, it must be recognised that change does not come easy, nor does it come overnight.
It takes commitment and focus to make it happen, which is what the powers that be need to have to repair the Water and Sewerage Authority once and for all. This media house hopes that the Government, in its haste to transform WASA into a modern, efficiently run and profitable organisation, takes the necessary time and due diligence to select an individual who has the competence and stamina to go the distance.