It was a surprising Wednesday morning in some branches of the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) with an impromptu visit by its internal customer care task force to check the state of their service delivery.
During the inspection, members of the task force talked with customers, asking them about their experiences with the service they get from the agency.
According to Jean Marie Nkurunziza, the head of the task force, the idea to carry out such inspections results from the meeting held by the Prime Minister with different private and public institutions in November to find ways of improving customer care. "Our mandate is to inspect our branches and stations across the country to see if their services meet the required standards and improve them," explained Nkurunziza.
And from the reactions of people at EWSA's Gikondo branch, it was clear that there is certainly room for improvement - although most of them agreed that things have gotten better over the past years.
Bernardine Kabisama, a resident of Karambo in Gatenga sector was there to get a water connection given that her neighborhood had recently been linked to the water network after many years without clean water. "I'm happy that I am now going to get access to clean water and I hope to be served today," Kabisima said.
Yet Augustin Rutayisire, who lives in Kabuga of Masaka sector, was less satisfied, due to persistent problems with his cashpower. "The units on my meter never go down, and I called EWSA several times, but I'm still waiting for someone to come and check what is wrong," he complained.
A common grievance at Gikondo branch was that people are charged money for the technicians' transport. "When we come at a time when there are no vehicles at the station, we are forced to provide transport for a technician," complained another woman from Gatenga.
In reply, the branch management made it clear that this is unacceptable behavior on the part of individuals, since EWSA's regulations provide good customer care free of charge. "EWSA issued orders that no customer should provide transport for our technicians because we have our own vehicles for that," said Mujawingoma, the EWSA Gikondo branch manager.
At Kanombe branch, there were many people from Nyakayaga sector in Rwamagana district who had come to look for cashpower meters since the area was recently connected to the national grid, yet they complained they were made to wait for several days. According to the management, this was due to a delay by the suppliers of the meters.
Task force leader Nkurunziza said that they will be conducting such inspections across the country throughout the year without notifying targeted stations and branches. In addition, he reminded the public that EWSA has a call center which people can contact if they have a problem or complaint.
"Every three hours the complaints are sent to us, and we communicate them to the concerned branch managers," he explained.
Established by EWSA management, the task force has mandate to provide advice for improvement where necessary and make a report if nothing is done; those reports can then result in sanctions for the concerned officials.