British firm to manage water sector

Guyana Chronicle
November 14, 2002

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THE Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) will soon be managed by a private British management firm in a move to promote greater efficiency and improved customer service in the water sector, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon announced yesterday.

At his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, Luncheon said that the GWI, as from January 1, 2003, will be managed by the private firm, Severn Trent. However, it will be providing management staff from this month.

He also reported that Cabinet has briefed representatives of the company on its expectations in relation to the quality of customer service and its responsibilities to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The contract is for a period of five years, but during this time local personnel will be trained for the eventual "Guyanisation" of the management, and it is projected that by the end of the contractual period, the water sector will be in the hands of Guyanese, Luncheon explained.

Cabinet on November 3 approved the management contract for which a bid was tendered, as well as the issuance of the operating licence to Severn Trent.

Although the contract will officially commence on January 1, 2003, Severn Trent will be providing management staff from November 15, 2002.

On Friday last, the principals of the company were addressed by the Cabinet oversight body that examined the process of the negotiations. The representatives were also provided some insights into the Government's interest and the quality of service to consumers and the role of the PUC were also highlighted," Luncheon reported.

He said local management personnel will not be displaced, but will be trained to eventually take over the reins of the water sector.

However, Luncheon pointed out that several geographical areas will not be under the purview of Severn Trent as those locations are still being serviced under the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Committee (SILWFC).

"The management contract that is being awarded deals exclusively with the management of this sector in its responsibilities to deliver potable water to Guyanese, he said.

“A few geographic areas are excluded from the purview of the company and during the discussions and the follow up on the negotiations with Severn Trent, the Cabinet Oversight Committee, not unmindful of the experiences with another company, a private firm, was at pains to include in the contract standards, performance criteria and an incentive component to promote greater trust by the company…in fulfilling its contractual obligations, “ Luncheon further explained.

“It is our anticipation that allied with those contractual obligations, the role of the Public Utilities Commission would contribute to a diminishing likelihood of a repetition of what has occurred in other sectors," he told reporters.

Luncheon said the cost of the contract is estimated to be over US$5M and will be financed through a grant from the British Department for the Funding of International Development (DFID). - (CHAMANLALL NAIPAUL).

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