Water Sector performed well in 2001 - Minister Baksh By Stacey Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
December 30, 2001

MINISTER of Housing and Water, Shaik Baksh, has reported that the water sector performed well in 2001, and that the government will be continuing along this path in the new year.

At his final press conference for this year, at the GTV studios, yesterday, Minister Baksh said the government is placing emphasis on the water sector and it is at the top of the government's agenda in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) consultations.

"The government has been moving rapidly and expending billions of dollars on the water sector, essentially to upgrade the water sector, to drill new wells, (and) to replace the old pipelines.

"Hundreds and thousands of pipelines have been drilled for the year 2001," the Minister reported.

He added that vast expenditures have been made on the water treatment plants, and water storage capacities.

"…While we have achieved a lot in 2001, I must stress that it will take another couple of years to complete the entire upgrading of the water sector," he said.

He indicated that the Ministry has already put together a five-year programme to modernise the sector in this country.

Minister Baksh assured those residents in areas where work has not commenced that there are certain factors that are restraining the Ministry from doing so. Among those factors are public implementation capacity and the managerial expertise of contractors.

"We intend to remedy these matters. Overall, in terms of the GS&WC, we have made significant progress in replacing old pipelines in year 2001," he said.

More than $200M worth of pipleines were laid in North Ruimveldt, South Ruimveldt Park, Festival City and Agricola, and it is the administration’s intention to continue the programme of replacing pipelines in the distribution system in the Georgetown area.

In Sophia, more than nine miles of pipelines and transmission lines have been laid at a cost of $59M.

Minister Baksh said the Ministry is in the process of conducting house-to-house connections in Blocks `A’ and `B’ Sophia.

Another pump has been installed to operate in the 12 sewerage-pumping stations, in case the other becomes dysfunctional.

"Some amount of new pipe work has been laid and the electronic control mechanisms have been in place. So we are in a better position (to deal) with the sewerage system," he said.

Next year, when the GS&WC's Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) programme comes on stream, US$30M will be provided to continue to replace pipelines.

Plans are also on stream to build two iron remover plants to get rid of the iron in the water, which residents have been complaining about, the Minister said.

The first will be erected at Central Ruimveldt to be funded by IDB. The second will be built in Sophia.

Iron remover plants are also to be constructed on the Essequibo Coast, in Region Two. In that Region too, GUYWA has replaced distribution and transmission systems in Queenstown and Taymouth Manor.

In Region Three, the majority of work in villages has been completed.

A lot of emphasis will be placed on areas in the Hinterland, next year, because of the poor quality of water emanating from the borehole, according to the Minister.

"...So we would have to look back at our approach in terms of the Hinterland, particularly Regions Seven and Eight, and devise a new approach to try to get water from those areas".

Meanwhile, the Minister has urged Lindeners to be patient, promising them priority treatment in the provision of potable water supply next year.

He said because of the dilapidated system, it would take a lot of effort and resources to rehabilitate the Linden Water System.

Minister Baksh also pointed out at the press conference that 19 squatter settlements were targetted under the IDB Squatter Settlement programme. Seventeen of those areas are completed with full water distribution systems and persons can now access house connections.

These areas are Caneville, Goedverwagting, Sparendaam, Tushcen in Region Four, and Zeelugt in Region Three. Works are in progress in Blueberry Hill, Block 72 Wisroc in Region Ten.

"This is really an achievement for the Ministry of Housing and Water," the Minister said, pointing out that at the core of the Government’s Poverty Alleviation Programme is the provision of safe water for the populace.

Government’s plans for the sector include the construction of a US$6M water factory at Eccles, East Bank Demerara. The process of selecting contractors has been completed.

"We intend, as part of the new coastal strategy for the water sector, to (establish) water factories. Essentially, (these) are water treatment plants, storage facilities and pumping stations and so on," he said.

Wind Mill Systems, which the minister said are more economical to maintain and operate, will be constructed in six villages in Region Nine which.

Solar systems will be installed at Mathews Ridge and Karassabai in Regions One and Eight, respectively.