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WASA’s ‘Name and Shame’ rakes in $1b in a year
The “Name and Shame” campaign launched by the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has raked in close to $1 billion for the public utility, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh has said. He said the agency’s new approach to revenue collection, which started last year without the introduction of new tariffs, grew by almost quarter billion dollars in one year.
There was also an amnesty feature to the campaign that allowed illegal customers to be regularised and added to the authority’s database which contributed to the increase in profit. The introduction of new water rates is in the making for people with wells, however, the minister said that will take place during fiscal year 2012/2013.
The minister was speaking at WASA’s Celebration of Our Successes at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port-of-Spain on Friday.
“In February 2012, WASA engaged in an aggressive revenue collection drive accompanied by a disconnection programme that the faint-hearted amongst us were cynical about. Mr (Gerard) Yorke, acting CEO and former chief financial officer has advised that in 2010 WASA collected $550 million; $614 million in 2011 (an increase of $64 million over the 2010 figure); $823 million in 2012 (an increase of $209 million over the 2011 figures).”
Singh lauded the utility’s new approach to customer service which was crucial to the rebranding of the company. He cited that WASA which historically was maligned in the area of customer service, registering 30 per cent in the MORI poll in 2010, has climbed 100 per cent in ratings to 67 per cent.
A crucial test of the authority’s new template in service was demonstrated back in January, when the Desalination Company of T&T (Desalcott) proceeded on a planned ten-day shutdown to execute critical maintenance works, said the minister. Operating with a production deficit of close to 30 million gallons per day, WASA had to implement strategies to sustain a reliable supply of potable water to both domestic and industrial customers by:
• Ensuring that all production facilities were fully operational and 100 per cent reliable
• Ensuring that Caroni’s water treatment plant was functioning at an optimum 75 million gallons per day
• Scheduling water from Central to facilitate the South West region
• Ensuring that the Point Lisas Industrial Estate had a 24 hour/seven-day supply of water
• Ensuring a constant supply of truck borne water including redeployment of north tankers to South, increasing filling bay facilities at Caroni, Carlsen Field, Freeport and Malgretoute and contracting and redeployment of a reserve fleet of 20 trucks from projects division and construction north.
Singh is predicting that a $3 billion loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to WASA will jump-start growth in the construction sector. He said, “I hope you can appreciate the enormity of this achievement and the positive impact this will have on the environment and the stimulation of the economy through opportunities for the local contracting sector.
The money will be spent to implement the programme over a five-year period, with the construction of two new and improved waste-water treatments plants— one in San Fernando and the other in Malabar. Simultaneously, there will be institutional strengthening of WASA and that will focus on policy reforms and institutional reforms. After the successful completion of phase one, the other two phases of this project will commence.”
The roll-out of projects is as follows:
• Phase two will involve another US$100 million and will focus on the continuation of the institutional strengthening of WASA and the integration of the sewerage work for the connection to the newly-constructed waste-water treatment plants at San Fernando and Malabar
• Phase three, which will entail the use of another US$200 million in loan financing, will facilitate the expansion of the waste-water collection system to move the entire population and various catchment areas through a centralised catchment base system
“Whilst we celebrate these performance improvements and we have every right to do so, we must also be very clear that there are forces against change in society and WASA is a microcosm of the society. We cannot and must not allow the old WASA to re-emerge,” Singh said.
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