Water-pumping hours to be reduced
GWI in bid to cut costs
By Nigel Williams
August 25, 2003
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In a bid to cut energy costs the cash-strapped Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) plans to lower the volume of water supplied to its customers by reducing the pumping hours.
In some areas GWI would cut back on two hours of pumping time, while the period could be greater in other areas.
To this end, starting from tomorrow GWI customers could expect less than their customary twelve hours of water supply.
In addition, the company will be intensifying its country-wide disconnection campaign beginning August 27. The disconnection campaign will target all customers with outstanding arrears for 2003 and years prior to 2003.
Customers who are not in receipt of bills are being urged to visit the GWI divisional offices in their respective areas and settle their accounts.
A source close to GWI told this newspaper yesterday that the company was unable to pay its power bill which is around $100M per month. According to the source, the company has no other choice at present than cutting off delinquent customers and at the same time reducing the water service hours to balance its finances.
GWI, the source added, has acknowledged that many of its customers were unmetered and as such they were paying standard water rates which could not adequately compensate, since the majority of these customers were using more water than they actually paid for. The company, the source said, was working towards installing meters on all of its customers’ pipes.
Since last year GWI has owed the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) in excess of $200M. At one point GPL was moving towards cutting off the water utility but Minister of Housing and Water, Shaik Baksh intervened and a solution was worked out.
However, despite claims that many customers were not paying their bills, the source agreed that there are a number of areas where there are service connections but the residents are not receiving any water. One such area is Victoria over the railway embankment and other villages on the East Coast and East Bank of Demerara.
Residents of some of these areas had told this newspaper recently, that they were made to fetch water from as far as one mile from their homes because of their out-of-service water connection.
Asked to comment on the situation, the source said as long as GWI was aware that that was the case, those customers would not be disconnected or asked to pay bills.
But Stabroek News was told that some of these very customers were issued water bills at the end of the month. At Victoria some of those residents had taken it upon themselves not to pay any bills.
This decision by the residents, the source said, has contributed to the company’s inability to pay its GPL bill since these customers are part of the company’s budget projections.
The source told this newspaper that most of the company’s water pumps were being operated with electricity and as a result, GWI could not afford to be in arrears to the power company.
“We are committed towards providing potable water to the citizenry and this we will continue to do but the customers would have to help us.”
The source said the reduction in the pumping hours would not affect the working -class since the pumping schedule would be arranged in such a way that whenever they were home water would be flowing. During this period customers are being urged to conserve on water and to take note of the pumping- schedule which would be published sometime soon.
When asked how long the campaign would last, the source told this newspaper that the campaign would be indefinite.
Customers in Georgetown who have queries and have to settle their accounts are asked to visit the company’s commercial services and customer- relations department located on Vlissengen Road, while those in other parts of the country are urged to visit their respective Regional Offices.