The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) will spend $5.5 billion under “the Authority’s Projects Programme” from 2012 to 2016 (inclusive of 2012), WASA’s interim Chief Executive Officer Dion Abdool confirmed on Tuesday. In an e-mailed response to a Business Guardian query, Abdool said: “In keeping with the supply and demand requirements and to ensure reliability and sustainability in the infrastructure, the funding is to be spent on the development of new sources of water, improvements in the production, transmission and distribution infrastructure, construction of new wastewater facilities, integration of existing private developers’ wastewater plants, and the commencement of universal metering.” Asked where will the money come from, Abdool said, “The figure quoted is projected expenditure over a five-year period and funding is to be requested from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); the latter focusing on development of the wastewater infrastructure. Some of the works will be covered from funds available under the Citicorp loan and existing allocation from Public Sector Investment Programme.” WASA issued a $1.3 billion, which was underwritten by Citicorp Merchant Bank, on March 28, 2011. The bond received a government guarantee, which was signed by then acting Minister of Finance, Vasant Bharath on behalf of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
The proceeds of the bond were to have been utilized to fund the WASA component of the One-Year Action Agenda of the Ministry of Public Utilities which includes infrastructural development water projects. Speaking at the signing ceremony, then Minister of Public Utilities, Emmanuel George, indicated that the money from the bond would assist the Ministry in achieving its goal of providing water, at least 2 times per week, to homes that currently do not receive pipe-born water.
The WASA bond has a 20 year duration and was issued at a rate of 6.95 per cent. Speaking to the Business Guardian on Tuesday, Abdool said some of the professional services to be procured with the money “include engineering design, quantity surveying, project management, engineering surveying, supervision of works, land surveying and land management.”
Asked to specify the type of “works” to be executed with the money, the CEO said: “Works related to rehabilitation of water and wastewater treatment plants, booster stations and reservoirs, installation of pipes, installation of meters, construction of buildings, installation of SCADA and lift stations.” SCADA is the acronym for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition, which refers to computerised industrial control and monitoring systems. Abdool said: “Procurement will be open to the public, local and international in accordance with WASA’s tendering process. Where funding is provided by the IDB, the IDB’s procurement process must be complied with. “Contracts will follow the FIDIC Forms of Contract for Services and Works and payment will be consistent with the terms and conditions of the contracts,” he said. FIDIC is the French acronym for the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (Fédération Internationale Des Ingénieurs-Conseils).
He said that by 2016 after the $5.5 billion is spent, the water sector in Trinidad and Tobago will “be the best performing utility in the western hemisphere delivering sustainable water and wastewater services to all sectors of our society.” Abdool told the Business Guardian he will say more tomorrow (Friday, August, 10, 2012) at a breakfast meeting with members of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Westmoorings. In a statement on the event, the chamber said: “WASA actively promotes participation among local businesses in the provision of goods and services. 2012 - 2016 is a crucial growth period for the sector when a projected $5.5 billion will be spent under the Authority’s projects programme.
“Business leaders from all sectors (of) the economy for the first time will be presented with the opportunity to get in from the start and learn about the existing business prospects and how one can qualify to do business with WASA on Friday, August 10, 2012 from 8 a.m. at the Leon Agostini Conference Hall, Chamber Building, Westmoorings.” In addition to Abdool, speaking at the chamber event will be WASA Finance Director Gerard Yorke, Corporate Services Director Doodnath Bhola, General Manager of Projects Alan Poon-King and Contracts and Procurement Manager Sharmeela Joseph. At a later date, Abdool said, WASA will also present to members of the Energy Chamber, and the Tobago Chamber.
Flashback: Utility’s US$50 million wastewater rehabilitation loan
In October 2011, the Government received a US$50 million ($321 million) loan from the IDB under a programme aimed at rehabilitating WASA’s wastewater infrastructure. That loan was for a 25-year term, with a five-year grace period, at a variable interest rate based on the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). In the project description, the IDB said that T&T has about 70 wastewater treatment plants built by private developers associated with private developments that serve medium to large housing schemes. The large majority of them do not function properly, and improperly treated effluent is currently polluting receiving water bodies, which in some cases are used as sources of water for potable water. The programme is to assist the Government in aspects related to the takeover, refurbishment, upgrade and eventual integration of malfunctioning plants in Trinidad and Tobago. Also, the programme aims to improve WASA’s efficiency, by supporting the reorganization of its personnel structure and reducing personnel costs. The IDB US$50 million loan was meant to target malfunctioning or abandoned wastewater treatment plants in three sub-catchment areas draining the Caroni River Basin, along the East-West Corridor. This corridor stretches from the capital of Port-of-Spain to Arima, some 15 miles to the east.
Part of the proceeds of the loan was meant to interconnect seven treatment plants within an integrated system that was supposed to draw their wastewater into a number of larger plants, four of which will be rehabilitated. Priority works will begin in the Maloney sub-catchment. According to a Guardian report in October last year, the goal of the IDB loan programme was to drastically reduce levels of contamination in affected rivers and streams, ensuring that the wastewater was brought to compliance with the country’s stringent water pollution rules. Another goal of the programme was to lay a total of 13 kilometres of sewers and pipes as part of the five-year operation to complement the work on the wastewater treatment plants. This was meant to benefit more than 9,000 families currently being affected by poor wastewater management, according to a statement from the IDB. While these families are the direct target of the proposed intervention, the whole urban population of T&T will benefit from the improved water quality and better environmental conditions. Water monitoring programs and training on operation and maintenance of the rehabilitated plants will ensure the sustainability of these investments. In addition, the project aims to improve the efficiency of WASA, cutting down operating expenses within a broader personnel reorganisation framework. With programme resources, compensation packages and vocational training will be financed as part of this restructuring process. the rate at which the world’s most preferred borrowers are able to borrow money.