– Karan Singh
A resolution has not yet been met as to how the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) and the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) will settle the debts owed to each other, but according to Chief Executive Officer of the water company, Mr Karan Singh, the court will be the most appropriate body to address the situation at this stage.
The two entities have, for the past several months, been engaged in what was described as an amicable process to determine how they could best derive a payment settlement to resolve the distressing situation.
According to reports, the entities owe each other in excess of $200M (with the GWI owing the Council for rates and taxes, and the Council owing for water supply) and neither party had seemed willing to pay off its share.
The situation, however, reached alarming proportions when the GWI decided to disconnect several municipal locations for non-payment, including the abattoir and the Dorothy Bailey Health Centre.
The M&CC, in retaliation, had moved to the High Court, filing an injunction to halt the disconnection process engaged by the water company.
In compliance with the ruling of the High Court, the water company restored water supply to all municipal facilities.
Moved by the extent to which the situation had escalated, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Justice Prem Persaud, felt compelled to intervene, and thus commenced a mediation process between the two parties.
Justice Persaud, up to last week, had revealed that the process is not yet completed, but noted that it was continuing on an amicable note.
Deputy Mayor Robert Williams also related that the process was continuing and it is his expectation that it will help to amicably solve the payment problems.
According to the Deputy Mayor, the whole matter is expected to be resolved on the basis of an examination of documentation from both sides, which will determine the levels of ownership and responsibility.
In fact, he explained that it is anticipated that the process will serve to bring clarity to the operations of both entities.
But, according to Mr Singh, “there can be no amicable settlement when there is unwillingness by those involved to do what is right.”
Singh pointed out that he has become aware that, despite the mediation process, City Hall seems bent on not paying what it rightfully owes.
However, the Chief Executive Officer said that GWI will not relent on its efforts to ensure that customers pay for the water supply they consume.
He related that there are some customers who believe that they do not have to pay for the service provided, even as he outlined that the City Council will have no choice but to pay what it owes.
The CEO pointed out that GWI is striving, just as the municipality, to survive. He noted that the water company is simply an entity that provides a product.
He further noted that the municipality is one of the key culprits of mismanagement of water supplied to the city.
Singh disclosed that, although the PUC Chairman has continued to intervene in the matter, the final analysis will see the court of law bringing about a resolution.
According to Singh, the matter is slated to be heard again in court next month.
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