Water company in new cut-off drive for $2.4B
Stabroek News
January 6, 2007

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Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has announced a new disconnection campaign in a bid to recover $2.4B from defaulting customers.

GWI Debt Recovery Manager Jeanette Thomas yesterday said that all customers in arrears would be disconnected in this latest campaign, which will begin on January 15. "In light of this, we are appealing to all our customers to avoid being disconnected and pay your bills," she told reporters at a news conference. Previously, only customers with arrears above $10,000 were disconnected.

In 2006, the campaign netted $1.6B from a target of $2.4B. However, Thomas said GWI continues to face "great challenges" in the collection of monies owed, and domestic and non-domestic customers were in arrears of roughly $3.4B last year. Customers in Georgetown were the largest defaulters with over $1B in arrears, followed by those on the East Coast Demerara with over $574M, Corentyne, Berbice with $361M, East Bank Demerara with over $245M, and West Bank Demerara with $201M, and West Coast Berbice with $114M. Customers from West Coast Demerara, Mahaica, Wismar, New Amsterdam, McKenzie, Parika and Bartica also owed significant arrears.

Customers in these areas would be targeted in the campaign, although areas like La Grange and Meten-meer-Zorg, which have complained about not getting water, would be exempt.

Thomas explained that the company is in urgent need of revenue to pay its suppliers, the largest being GPL. She said failure to pay water bills impacts severely, affecting distribution and hindering development works. "If we do not pay for our electricity we may be disconnected and not be able to supply any water," she pointed out. GWI's operations rely on a power supply that costs $140M every month, in addition to $8M for fuel for stand-by power.

Thomas noted that there are payment arrangement plans still available for those who cannot afford to clear their accounts in one single payment. She also said while the company has taken some customers to court over arrears, such an option is a last resort.

Meanwhile, GWI Execu-tive Director of Customer Relations Lance McCaskey also announced that the company has introduced a new customer call centre to field complaints. Customers can call 227-8701 between 8 am and 4:30 pm and they will be routed to one of three available lines. McCaskey said the company has gotten good reviews for the call centre since its establishment and it plans to extend the operating hours.