Don’t al­low NHT to mess up roads

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Frank L.R. Man­borde Pres­i­dent, Ja­maica United Lo­cal Govern­ment Rep­re­sen­ta­tives As­so­ci­a­tion Grange Hill PO, West­more­land frankman­borde@mail.com

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.

GROSS UN­DER­PER­FOR­MANCE

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 long­stand­ing vex­ing is­sue. JULGRA is to­tally and of­fi­cially op­posed to the Govern­ment’s pro­posed di­vest­ment of the NWC.

This sec­tion of Red Hills Road, near Knights­dale Drive, is in a de­plorable con­di­tion. The road is filled with pot­holes, and an aban­doned house cov­ered in over­growth and in dis­re­pair com­pletes the pic­ture of ne­glect.

PHO­TOS BY NOR­MAN GRINDLEY/CHIEF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

The state of Lock­sley Hemmings Way, off Bret­ford Av­enue in the Molynes Gar­dens area, is des­per­ately in need of an over­haul. It is too treach­er­ous to even be called a don­key track.

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