Consultant of the Guyana Consumers' Association (GCA), Yog Mahadeo on Wednesday requested that the current reconnection fee imposed by the Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) be reduced to $100. The reconnection fee is $7,500.
Mahadeo believes no consumer should have to pay a reconnection fee since they are often forced to not pay their bills due to other priorities. He however reasoned his request to reduce the rate to $100 was reasonable.
“Too many times disconnection comes because we had to choose what bills to pay first.”
“Who comes first, my child or my water connection, who comes first my baby that I have to buy bottled water for or my bill? Mahadeo questioned.
He added “it is not a choice we want to be disconnected, it is a dire situation that makes us face the dire situation that makes us have to face the embarrassment of disconnection and then have to have a $7,500 knive held at our neck for daring to be disconnected.”
Mahadeo also argued that customers should not have to suffer the lengthy period to be reconnected once they have settled their accounts.
Once all accounts have been balanced, customers have to wait a period within 24-48 hours before GWI comes to reconnect their water supply- from the day of payment.
Responding to Mahadeo’s request, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GWI, Sheikh Baksh said the proposal to have the reconnection rate dropped to $100 is “unreasonable” as GWI needs to offset its expenses.
"We are now moving to a positon where we are now affording to pay our bills because in five years from 2015 to 2020, GWI went into a state of bankruptcy, overdraft to the max. We could not build inventories.”
“We cannot disconnect and reconnect freely of charge, this will impact our debt at GWI and our debt is going up every month,” Baksh explained.
Furthermore, GWI contends the cost to reconnect a customer is greater than what is being charged at the moment.
Baksh added, several alternatives are sought before a customer is disconnected.
He explained that customers who owe less than $10,000 to the water company would not be disconnected. This accounts for about three and five months worth of water for an metered and unmetered customer respectively
Also, there are payment plans available for customers who have an outstanding balance with the company.
At the end of the public hearing, both parties stood firm on their positions.
Additional information on this matter will be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission which will then be shared with the public.