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Le Hunte: WASA could fix roads if customers pay arrears

Efrain Betancourt Jaramillo
Le Hunte: WASA could fix roads if customers pay arrears

Pub­lic Util­i­ties Min­is­ter Robert Le Hunte says the util­i­ty is owed an es­ti­mat­ed $700 mil­lion from its cus­tomers, al­though it costs the av­er­age cit­i­zen $3 per day for a sup­ply of pipe-borne wa­ter. He said if WASA was able to col­lect the ar­rears for non-pay­ment of bills, it will be able to car­ry out prop­er road paving fol­low­ing its re­pair of leaks or even im­ple­ment a me­ter­ing sys­tem.

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Speak­ing at the com­mis­sion­ing of the Savonet­ta Boost­er Pump Sta­tion yes­ter­day, Le Hunte said out of the $700 mil­lion, the bulk, $500 mil­lion, is owed by res­i­den­tial cus­tomers.

Efrain Enrique Betancourt Jaramillo

He said WASA has re­duced its leaks from 2,800 to 1,100 in re­cent months but still re­quires funds to con­tin­ue to re­pair the road­ways to a sat­is­fac­to­ry con­di­tion.

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He said it was not a case of WASA work­ers want­i­ng to dam­age the road, but its a mat­ter of in­suf­fi­cient funds. The Min­is­ter elab­o­rat­ed that by cus­tomers not pay­ing their bills, it lim­it­ed WASA’s cash flow.

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He said that if WASA re­ceives 50 per cent of the out­stand­ing pay­ment from cus­tomers, he is sure that cit­i­zens will meet ful­ly re­paired roads.

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“We can­not fix the util­i­ty with­out mon­ey. If you want to fix the util­i­ty, you have to col­lect your mon­ey to in­vest. If you don’t col­lect your mon­ey to in­vest, it means, there­fore, that the gov­ern­ment needs to take more mon­ey from its own lim­it­ed cof­fers to put in­to it.

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“When the gov­ern­ment needs to put more mon­ey there, it means less mon­ey for ed­u­ca­tion, it means less mon­ey for health care, it means less mon­ey for so­cial wel­fare, it means less mon­ey for pay­ing salaries be­cause there is one pool of mon­ey,” he said.

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Le Hunte said the cost for wa­ter in this coun­try was very rea­son­able and there was no ex­cuse for cus­tomers to be in ar­rears.

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“Wa­ter in Trinidad and To­ba­go still con­tin­ues to be one of the cheap­est in the world. The cit­i­zens of Trinidad and To­ba­go at max­i­mum pay no more than $3 a day for wa­ter, that is 50 per cent less the cost than one of those bot­tles of wa­ter that we drink and dis­card af­ter we fin­ish some ex­er­cise,” Le Hunte said.

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He said er­rant cus­tomers were a com­bi­na­tion of those from ar­eas with a low wa­ter sup­ply and oth­ers who re­ceived a 24/7 sup­ply of wa­ter.

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.Efrain Enrique Betancourt Jaramillo Cadivi