Thu | Aug 5, 2021

NWC needs life

Published:Friday | November 13, 2015 | 3:14 PM

NWC needs life

The deplorable negligence and exceptionally poor customer service of the National Water Commission (NWC) has been the source of annoyance and discontent for years, for residents of Black River, St Elizabeth.

There is an apparent trend with the NWC, insofar as the frequent and unscheduled disruptions are concerned, at least three times per week, with the imminent inconvenience that comes with it. The company oftentimes informs me that the reason for the supply interruption is because of a broken main in the area or its surroundings.

The NWC rarely, if ever, issues an advisory to its customers in Black River about industrial actions that are taken by its workers, which imminently leads to the disruption in the supply. Also of note is the fact that residents are left to the mercy of the commission in an event of a disruption because we cannot depend on the rains to mitigate against the lack of supply.

Out of the many recommendations that I have made to the company's management team in the past, in an attempt to significantly lessen or eliminate the irritating disruptions, I will re-emphasise three of the most critical and imperative.

First, the NWC must invest its resources into replacing the obsolete and obviously feeble pipe mains with new ones, with structural protection, in order to correct the inefficiencies that currently obtains, which would see a significant reduction in the damage to the system and inconvenience to customers.

Second, the NWC must have the respect and courtesy of informing customers in the area, via media outlets or other effective means, that there has been an unscheduled interruption in the supply; the reason for such an interruption; and what the expected time of restoration would be.

Third, in the event of an extended disruption, the NWC should utilise water trucks to supplement the needs of its customers in the affected areas.

Good customer service is the lifeblood of any forward-thinking organisation. It appears, however, that the NWC takes more comfort in being complacent, negligent and incompetent than actually providing acceptable levels of service to its customers, particularly those in the rural areas, because what currently obtains based on what it refers to as a 'service' leaves much to be desired.

The NWC's mission states: 'To contribute positively to national development by providing high-quality, potable water and sewerage services to residents and businesses through a competent and motivated team in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.' Its vision is that "In 2020, NWC is the No. 1 water-service utility in the Caribbean and Latin America in terms of coverage, customer satisfaction, reliability, efficiency, compliance and viability."

The myopic tendency of the management team is nowhere near synonymous with its mission and vision; there is nothing reliable about the NWC, and there are only five years left for them to achieve that very ambitious goal. It lacks the professed core values (honesty, integrity, transparency, accountability, professionalism and self-sufficiency), and its proposed value system of being responsive to the needs of customers is virtually non-existent.

It is inconceivable that the NWC knows what the problems are - old, rusty pipelines, lack of initiative, and disgraceful customer service - yet it fails to address the issues so that it may prove mutually beneficial. The dysfunctional and inefficient operations are further compounded by the apparent lackadaisical and 'don't-care' attitude of the responsible personnel, including the portfolio minister, Robert Pickersgill, because customers have no competitive alternative to the NWC's inferior and so-called service.

The tag line of the NWC is 'water is life', but the NWC needs life in its operations.