THE EDITOR, Sir:
Regarding your editorial 'Water: the case for privatisation (Gleaner, January 24, 2013), I must respectfully disagree.
We privatised the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) and we now pay an exorbitant amount for electricity. Our electricity is disconnected at will, sometimes after we have paid. We are not given the courtesy of a disconnection notice - unlike our wealthy neighbour in the north where three written disconnection notices are given, the final one specifying the disconnection date.
When we ask recourse of JPS, we are told that our bill was paid late, therefore, it has the right to disconnect. In vain, the customer explains that she cannot legally disconnect for a bill that has been paid, but the explanation is ignored.
Foreign exchange leak
No Jamaican is ever allowed to purchase any of the utilities - they go to foreigners for practically nothing, with guaranteed and artificially high rates of returns. Badly needed foreign exchange goes abroad to fill the pockets and bank accounts of persons without loyalty to customer or country.
The Government must look to water harvesting, ensuring that each household has a tank with a capacity that can fulfil its needs for one year. Again, the loans for these can be had from the National Housing Trust (NHT) or PC Banks. Aside from eliminating wastage of the precious commodity, the advantages of this system are numerous:
1. Meaningful jobs for Jamaicans in the following areas:
i. Manufacturing gutters from our own alumina.
ii. Manufacturing plastic tanks.
iii. Building concrete tanks.
iv. Planting and harvesting moringa for natural water purification.
2. Preservation of roads and property because of reduced flooding because of water run-off.
3. Preservation of the environment - reduced run-off lessens or eliminates soil erosion; the elimination of chlorine for purifying water reduces soil and water pollution.
4. Earnings in interest going to NHT or PC Banks.
5. Savings in foreign exchange (water can be gravity-fed instead of using electricity to pump); savings for householders - tanks pay for themselves.
6. Water saved made available for irrigation, to drive the agro and agro-processing industry and/or for producing hydroelectricity, if viable.
In Bermuda, each household has a tank. There is no complaint from residents; they feel no need for Government to supply them with water.