Ac­cess to wa­ter tops agenda at OOCUR con­fab

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Okoye Henry Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BU­REAU: CCESS TO wa­ter and the need to in­vest in lo­cal wa­ter and sew­er­age in­fra­struc­ture are among the key is­sues to be put on the ta­ble at next week’s Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Caribbean Util­ity Reg­u­la­tors (OOCUR) 14th An­nual Con­fer­ence in Montego Bay.

Di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Of­fice of Util­i­ties Reg­u­la­tion, Al­bert Gor­don, said that the OOCUR is ex­pected to ben­e­fit greatly from in­for­ma­tion shared by its re­gional col­leagues on how to im­prove these is­sues cur­rently af­fect­ing Ja­maica’s util­ity sec­tors.

He made this known while speak­ing at yes­ter­day’s launch held at the Wex­ford Ho­tel in the western city.

“That is a prob­lem that is crit­i­cal in Ja­maica right now,” said Gor­don, who is also the chair­man for OOCUR.

“There will be pre­sen­ta­tions from the In­ter-Amer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank (IDB) on how we (Ja­maica) can get more in­vest­ment in wa­ter, given the con­straints of the Gov­ern­ment, on how we can have more public-pri­vate part­ner­ships play a more crit­i­cal role in wa­ter,” he ex­plained.

It was noted that Claren­don and 16 other towns across the is­land are cur­rently in need of a cen­tral sewage sys­tem.

“There are things that need to be strength­ened. We don’t have a wa­ter sec­tor law that can fa­cil­i­tate more peo­ple com­ing in and pro­vid­ing al­ter­na­tives to NWC (Na­tional Wa­ter Com­mis­sion). How do we in­cen­tivise oth­ers to come in?

ABe­cause NWC can­not do it,” Gor­don out­lined. In ad­di­tion, net neu­tral­ity, In­ter­net ac­cess to broad­band, as well as fac­tors re­lat­ing to elec­tric­ity gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity, sus­tain­abil­ity and use of al­ter­na­tive fuel source are among the is­sues to be dis­cussed between the re­gion’s util­ity reg­u­la­tors at the up­com­ing three-day event.

The con­fer­ence, which will span Oc­to­ber 26 to 28, will be hosted at the Se­crets Re­sorts and Spa that is sit­u­ated at Freeport, Montego Bay.

More than 150 par­tic­i­pants from more than 20 coun­tries have al­ready reg­is­tered to be in at­ten­dance.

Some of the coun­tries al­ready con­firmed are St Lu­cia, The Ba­hamas, The Cay­man Is­lands, St Kitts and Ne­vis, Bar­ba­dos, and Guyana. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from a num­ber of Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries, as well as from the United States, Canada, the Euro­pean Union, and United King­dom, will also be in at­ten­dance.

The con­fer­ence will be look­ing at util­ity ser­vices to en­sure that ser­vice providers are play­ing their role in driv­ing de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion, as well as the qual­ity of ser­vices, cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, ac­cess to ser­vice, af­ford­abil­ity, sus­tain­abil­ity, rec­om­men­da­tions for im­prove­ment, and more.

“OOCUR’s ob­jec­tive is to pro­vide an en­vi­ron­ment and mech­a­nism for mem­bers to ben­e­fit from the shar­ing of ex­per­tise,” said David Ged­des, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of OOCUR.

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