Thu | Oct 29, 2020

Reprieve - PM says repairs completed on major pipeline causing water problems in the city

Published:Wednesday | January 16, 2019 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses the audience at the launch of the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project in St Elizabeth on Wednesday.

The more than 100,000 residents of Kingston and St Andrew who had been experiencing disruptions in their water supply from the National Water Commission (NWC) should find it easier accessing the precious commodity in their homes.

This as Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Wednesday announced that repair works have been completed on one of the two pipes running beneath the Mandela Highway, which is under-construction.

According to Holness, who was addressing the official launch of the Essex Valley Agriculture Development project, in St Elizabeth, a 33-inch pipeline has been repaired.

But the prime minister said it could take another three months for the authorities to fix the other broken pipe, which is said to be some 35 feet underground.

"Repair is not the right word ... we would have to abandon that and run new lines. And when that is done, Kingston will be adequately served and sustainably served. Because an important part of anything that the Government of Jamaica is doing now is resilience," Holness said.

He gave an assurance that the water mains that are going to be installed over the next three months "will be appropriately designed, they will be appropriately spec'd and properly installed, both to carry current capacity and future demands and to withstand catastrophes and eventualities that would impact the productivity and economy of the country".

On Tuesday, Ian Hayles, the opposition spokesman on water, lambasted the NWC for its poor handling of the water problems facing sections of Kingston and St Andrew, as well as St Catherine, and called for heads to roll.

Hayles, in putting pressure on the country's largest supplier of potable water, suggested that the NWC address its supply problems before the Office of Utilities Regulation grant it a rate increase.

"You have 70 per cent non-revenue water being collected for people across Kingston and St Andrew and across Jamaica can't get water, but they have a perfect meter in their front yard; and all we're saying is, before you seek this rate increase, please, we're asking you - fix the problems, then go to the OUR," he insisted.

The NWC last year applied to the OUR for a 23 per cent average increase in water charges and a 38 per cent average hike in sewerage chart.