Mocha residents suspicious of water company's plans
Stabroek News
September 24, 2002

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A lack of communication about Guyana Water Inc's (GWI) activities at Mocha, East Bank Demerara has resulted in residents feeling suspicious of the company's presence in the village.

But Public Relations Officer of GWI, Audreyanna Thomas said while GWI understands the concerns of the residents, it wishes to assure them that they have not been singled out. "Your community is currently being supplied with water that is not treated and this project will enable your community to benefit from treated water," Thomas appealed to the villagers in a release issued yesterday.

Pipelines are being laid to connect the village to a water treatment plant at Eccles.

During a visit to the area last week Stabroek News heard complaints about the laying of pipes along the access road to the East Bank village. Residents also said they were concerned about what would become of their current water pump, which was given to them by Futures Fund. They were worried that it would be taken away and given to another village.

But Thomas told this newspaper yesterday that GWI had no such intention. She said the company is simply fulfilling its mission, which is to "deliver safe, adequate and affordable water for the improvement of public health and sustainable economic development." She said the current water pump in the village does not deliver treated water and it is within the mandate of GWI to ensure that it does not continue to operate.

One resident, Emerson Brandford had raised his concerns over the issue of the village pump and wondered if the area was singled out as a pilot to integrate the water system, or whether the project is to give water from the Mocha well to the GUYSUCO Housing Scheme in Herstelling. Brandford said residents of Mocha have cherished the well since receiving it in 1995 along with two roads.

Thomas said the Mocha/Arcadia community is not being singled out as a pilot area but is simply part of the larger East Bank water project encompassing Eccles to Friendship. This project will provide some 63,000 residents with water that has been chlorinated, aerated and filtered. Thomas said the project involves the rehabilitation of treatment plants at Eccles, Covent Garden, Golden and Grove and the installation of 27 kilometres of pipelines. It is being funded by the government and the World Bank at a cost of $562 million.

Meanwhile, on the question of communication, residents feel that since the new water system would in some way or the other affect them they should have at least been consulted before GWI went into the area. This was only done after several residents had protested. On September 12, GWI held a meeting in the area, but the officers met stern opposition from the residents. Stabroek News was told that GWI had informed the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) about its plan, but the NDC failed to inform the residents, resulting in back and forth quarrels between the two sides. Until now GWI is unclear as to what it would do with the village pump. Thomas indicated that even though the pump was given to the residents, it was maintained by the GWI, which also paid for its operation. She asked, rhetorically what purpose would the pump serve, if it were to remain in the village while the villagers were being supplied with water from the new system. She said residents had to decide whether they needed, treated water or untreated water.

Meanwhile some residents were also curious to know whether they would be required to pay higher rates under the new system and whether they would be metered.

Thomas responded that it would be unfair for other citizens to be paying for their water while those in Mocha got their supply free. Stabroek News understands also that residents in the area had not been paying water rates having received the pump as a gift.

Thomas also disclosed that similar projects are being executed to systems in Bartica and La Bonne Intention on the East Coast Demerara. Thomas said new treatment plants have been constructed in Rose Hall and Pouderoyen as part of the modernisation programme.

She added that GWI is making every effort to establish and maintain support from the community in the current venture. "We wish to thank the community for their support thus far, and we look forward to their continued support as we complete this project together and ensure that residents of the village benefit from an improved water supply."