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Guyana’s third world problems

It’s hard to believe that Guyana is still unable to do basic civic governance.

A total US$31.6 million, which is being provided by IDB and the European Union’s Caribbean Investment Facility (CIF), is to assist the Government of Guyana as it seeks to correct deficiencies, including inefficient equipment, less than adequate operation and management practices as well as high energy costs.

According to an IDB, 50% to 70% of the water produced by Guyana Water Inc (GWI), estimated at 123,241,062 m3 in 2013, goes unaccounted for despite advancements in annual billing, while the current sewerage arrangement covers 48,000 people living in Georgetown. This figure represents just 6.5 per cent of the national population, as the vast majority continue to use septic tanks and pit-latrines.

When asked why the PPP/C administration has taken so long to address these deficiencies, Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali told Stabroek News that steps were initiated to improve GWI’s efficiency some years ago. He admitted, however, that there have been challenges along the way.

With regard to reducing losses, Ali reiterated that the system is old and inefficient but also said that many of the problems are caused by customers. He said many persons continue to tamper with the system, going as far as breaking pipes so as to redirect the flow of water. He noted that several mining operations in Region 8 are known for perpetrating such acts. When this happens it compromises the integrity of the distribution system, opening it up to contamination.

Ali also said there are instances of meter tampering, which means persons are not paying what they ought to for the water they use. The minister added that persons opt not to pay their bills. GWI has stated before that many customers illegally reconnect their water without paying arrears.

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