GUYWA finally completes NA water supply project
Dissatisfaction lingers By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
May 8, 2002

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After twelve trying years the billion-dollar New Amsterdam Water Supply Project jointly funded by the European Union (EU) and the Government of Guyana has finally been completed, according to the Guyana Water Authority (GUYWA).

However, there is still dissatisfaction with the level of the service with some residents still experiencing difficulties in obtaining supplies.

Yesterday, a number of residents in the Mount Sinai area told reporters that they had not been receiving water for sometime now. Some said they were still paying persons $50 for one jar of water.

Earlier this week GUYWA's Divisional Manager, Rohan Singh told Stabroek News that the distribution network had been completed and the authority was now concentrating on "improving the level of service." He admitted, however, that the level of service was still poor in the Patrick Dam area, Mt. Sinai, describing the ward as "a heavily populated area."

A Georgetown-based company, Japarts, had been contracted to complete the remainder of the works left by the previous contractor Southern Exploration Construction Firm of Trinidad and Tobago under the third and final phase of the project. Japarts has since left the town but the service in the large Mt Sinai area remains far from satisfactory. Some say that the water they receive is either smelly, discoloured or muddy.

According to Singh, a four-inch main should have been installed in the Patrick Dam area to send a larger volume of water into the area via an existing two-inch distribution line. However this main has not been installed. Yet consumers in some sections of the town, including eastern New Amsterdam, are receiving water in their upper flats. The third and final phase of the project with a contract value of $265 million entailed the installation of 4,700 service connections, 53 fire hydrants and the laying of some 72,000 metres of pipelines as part of a secondary distribution network.

The contract was terminated in June last year after the contractor failed to complete the project on schedule despite two extensions. The phase commenced in December 1999 and was scheduled to be completed by November 2000.

Despite several efforts this newspaper has been unable to ascertain how much of the $265 million was in fact paid to Southern Exploration and how much remained from the contract sum. Efforts to ascertain how much money was paid to Japarts to "complete" the unfinished works have also been unsuccessful.

The Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association (BCC&DA) recently issued a press statement expressing its concern over the level of service being offered and the state of the streets which were damaged during the final phase of the project. "All of the cross streets have become virtual quagmires, thanks to the unplanned, sloppy and highly unsatisfactory manner in which the work by the Guyana Water Authority, and its several contractors, ostensibly to modernize the pure water distribution system in the town has been carried out," the statement said. It said further "first the parapets were dug up to lay the main pipes, partly refilled, then re-dug and partly refilled. Then the cross streets some of which were recently resurfaced were dug to lay pipes for installing water meters and are yet to be refilled."

According to the release "residents in some sections of the town are yet to receive pure water flowing through their taps."

However, the service now offered by the authority is not expected to improve until three booster pumps and a new well pump for the plant's second bore hole, now on order, arrive in the country. Stabroek News understands that the pumps may not arrive until August. Improvement in the service is also dependent on the completion of repairs to the 110,220-gallon overhead storage tank which developed a major leak last year. A source told this newspaper that the authority is cash-strapped and could not say when the tank would be repaired.

Over recent weeks the authority has been urging consumers to pay up their rates or risk disconnection. The rates were recently increased to $480 per month but some consumers have been arguing that they are being asked to pay rates for a service which is non-existent in some cases or otherwise poor.

Meanwhile, Stabroek News understands that funds are not available for the installation of all the required 53 hydrants in the township, raising fears of a possible catastrophe if a major fire erupts.

A Water Management Committee was recently established and convened its first meeting last Tuesday. It comprises representatives from GUYWA, the Town Council and the Chamber and is expected to focus on "optimizing and maximizing the plant's level of service."