Massive water improvement drive
By Jaime Hall
Guyana Chronicle
March 5, 2003

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Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) said its new five-year management team intends to significantly improve the quality of water to consumers, through a US$85 million programme.

It noted, however, that the water improvement project will be taken from point of inadequate service supply, which is due to a number of factors that include plant failure, breakages, leakages and sometimes power outages.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday at the Tower Hotel, Main Street, Georgetown, GWI Managing Director Mr. Derek Hodson said the contract which is performance based, entails providing and improving water services throughout Guyana and some of the key areas where improvement performance is required including non-revenue water.

Non-revenue water is the water GWI produces and is not being paid for. He explained that that water accounts for a very large component of the company’s supplies at the moment and impacts significantly on the cost for its provision.

“We will be looking very carefully in this area and making special efforts to ensure that improvements are done as quick as possible”, he said.

According to Hodson, GWI will be reviewing among other things the collection of revenue for water being supplied. He said it would have to be done in such a way that gives the company an appropriate level of income for the service being provided.

Currently, collection efficiency is very low, he said, admitting that the exact details of all their customers are not known and GWI is not necessarily producing bills which can be presented without queries.

“I think a lot of people recognize that they get a bill which is not correct, and this gives them an excuse for not paying”.

Hodson said GWI has a requirement to extend its service but would have to bring new customers into the supply system targeting also the hinterland and coastal areas as well.

He also said that as a requirement in the water improvement supply drive, there has been an increase in the number of people who pay for the service by meters. Currently the majority of customers pay for their service on an assessment basis.

The agreed policy within the sector is that GWI should move towards the installation of more water meters. “This would give people the advantage to pay for the water they receive and would be an incentive for people to use only the water they need. In that way it will help in the collection of water charges and help the company to progress and improve the service”.

Hudson said, although the legal framework was established for GWI to be formed and start the water improvement drive, “the situation is not all rosy”. There are important challenges to be faced in carrying forward the expectations of all the stakeholders in the water sector, he noted.

He said one of the key issues is the large debt inherited from the previous activities of the Guyana Water Authority (GUYWA) and Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commissioners (GS&WC) and the activities of GWI towards the end of last year.

He said, considering that the collection efficiencies are quite low there is a need for remodeling the system, which has a database that is inadequate.

There is a lot of room for improvements in the system of processing the bills and collection of revenue. He assured that these issues would soon be addressed.

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