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Don't allow NHT to mess up roads

Published:Saturday | October 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Don't allow NHT to mess up roads

Frank L.R. Manborde

President, Jamaica United Local Government Representatives Association

Grange Hill PO, Westmoreland

The Government-owned National Water Commission (NWC) is among the most wasteful, inefficient and unprofessional companies within the country. All too frequently, we hear of reports where broken pipes have been left running, community standpipes leaking month after month, and, in other cases, water-supply pipes located in communities running for up to a year without any attempt being made to repair the problems therein.

As a former councillor, I can attest to this unfortunate and shameful fact. Another major problem with the NWC has to do with the inefficient commission digging up various islandwide roadways for repairs and irresponsibly conducting such repairs to their water pipes and, thereafter, leaving the roads in a state of disrepair, to the detriment of commuters.

On some occasions, the road was just perfectly repaired and repaved by the National Works Agency, and here comes the shameless NWC. They dig up an area of the newly paved road, effect their repairs on their water pipes, and then leave the area in severe disrepair with huge craters.

Time and again, it has been reported that nearly 45 per cent of the water that is treated and distributed by the NWC goes to waste through broken and leaking NWC pipes across the island, hence costing the commission billions of dollars in lost revenue each year.

Yet the NWC sits idly by and has done nothing to rectify this significant problem. This situation is a national disgrace. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has to remedy this long-standing problem. The gross inefficiencies facing the commission cannot be allowed to continue. The necessary reforms need to be implemented to make the organisation into an efficient one.

The Jamaica United Local Government Representatives Association (JULGRA) calls upon the prime minister to implement a specific reform timetable for the NWC to annually reduce its billion-dollar losses and for a widespread islandwide repair programme to be expeditiously undertaken on the commission's water-distribution network.

JULGRA also calls for a new accountable management team to be put in place at the NWC, along with specified performance targets to be met by the managing director and his management team.


Currently, the NWC's management team is grossly underperforming, lackadaisical in many areas, unaccountable in some respects, and is doing a shameful job, to its customers detriment.

We are not getting value for money from the NWC. JULGRA is of the view that the NWC should remain a publicly operated, managed and funded company of the Government and should not be divested in any form. There is no need for the divestment of the NWC.

If the NWC were to be divested to private interests, the cost of water to consumers would be so expensive that only a few Jamaicans could afford to purchase water from the NWC.

Certain companies just should not be divested and must be controlled and managed by Government, such as the company that delivers and distributes water.

The NWC's water and sewage rates are already extremely expensive, especially the commercial rates in place. Why should private NWC customers who are not connected to the commission's sewage pipelines be compelled to pay sewage fees just because the sewage pipelines pass through their area? This is a form of extortion.

NWC customers should only pay sewage rates if they are connected to the commission's sewage main pipelines. The prime minister should as well address this long-standing vexing issue. JULGRA is totally and officially opposed to the Government's proposed divestment of the NWC.