…nationwide disconnection campaign begins March 2
“We’ve come to the point where we’ve got to do this…because we have no choice financially. Customers still have until March 2. However, if your time passes and your name remains on the list you will be disconnected.”
That is the message as the Guyana Water Incorporated yesterday announced its soon to be launched nation wide disconnection campaign. It is owed in excess of $6Billion in water tariffs by more than 123,000 households, nationwide.
Earl Aaron, the man in charge of the disconnection campaign, said that over all, the company has 166,000 customers but more than 123,000 are in arrears. Of that lot, 91,700 owe amounts in excess of $7000 each.
He said that if persons don’t pay up by March 2, they will be placed on the disconnection list and will be disconnected unless they pay the full outstanding amounts.
If disconnected they will also have to pay either a domestic reconnection fee of $6,000 or the non-domestic reconnection fee of $13,000.
Further, he said, if anyone is found to have tampered with the services through illegal reconnections, be it a customer or a GWI staff, the accused on conviction will have to pay a minimum fine of $25,000 for domestic service or $50,000 for commercial services.
In addition, the homeowner would have to pay the full outstanding bill plus the required reconnection fee. The alternative is jail time.
The company also noted that if persons do not pay for reconnection, after a period the service will be totally removed from the premises.
This action is a last resort since many customers have not responded to other initiatives such as visits to about 40 communities and meetings with thousands of customers.
Yuri Chandisingh, GWI’s Chief Executive Officer, in his appeal to citizens to use the time remaining before the nationwide campaign starts, said that this stringent move follows the many efforts to encourage customers to pay their water rates even through payment plans. He said it is his company’s last resort to recover needed revenue to continue to improve the services being offered.
He said the campaign will interrupt the service to customers so that they will be void of additional debt to the company.
“Persons owing still have time to come in and settle their accounts and enter into friendly plans because after March 2, people will have to pay the full amounts owed plus the reconnection fee before they get back the service once disconnected,” Chandisingh said.
To ensure that the campaign is effective, the company has employed additional contractors in addition to their on staff employees.
“In 2009, GWI launched several initiatives not only to encourage customers to make payments, but also to facilitate better access to payment locations,” but despite the large sums invested in Camp Resolution, there are still customers with large debts to the utility provider.
The company also launched a payment reminder campaign during the holidays that continued into February 2010; however, the response has been negligible as there are some customers who simply refuse to pay their water service arrears.
Customers are being advised to call or visit GWI locations to avoid the impending countrywide disconnection.
“I’m appealing to all customers with arrears to visit the nearest GWI location and avoid having their water service disconnected.
Those who cannot afford to pay the full debt can enter into a payment plan. These persons will not be disconnected once they have agreed to a payment contract.”
The Chief Executive also noted that customers who are not in receipt of a bill will not be exempted from disconnection as theses customers are aware that they have legitimately utilised the service, hence it is their obligation to enquire about their service charges.
The company’s Chief Executive said, “GWI customers countrywide must make paying for their water service charges a priority.”
Ravin Paltoo, Director of Finance, said that the utility company has started to improve its services in 2010 and that some 40 percent of Guyana receives treated water which attracts a sizable cost. He said, “If we continue to give water to customers and they do not want to pay it literally is water going down the drain.” He said too that government has already paid off the water rates for pensioners since December but that aside “we have no choice but to disconnect… we cannot continue to have some paying for all while others don’t pay for months and in some instances for years.
To query outstanding balances customers can contact GWI’s Customer Services Call Centre on 227-8701 or via the e-mail address [email protected]
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