Senators Vote to Privatize Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation

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Monrovia – The Liberian Senate has voted for the privatization of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) based on a recommendation from the Senate Committee on Land, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Public Corporations.

The committee, chaired by Senator Albert Chie of Grand Kru County stated that its recommendation is based on findings from an investigation done with authorities of the LWSC.

According to the committee, the Managing Director of the LWSC told the committee that the corporation is faced with a daunting challenge of replacing looted and damaged pipes, adding that the restoration of the facility to its pre-war status will cost approximately $28 million.

Prior to the civil war, the LWSC supplied pipe borne water to nine counties including Maryland, Grand Gedeh, Nimba, Margibi, Lofa, Sinoe, Grand Cape Mount and Grand Bassa counties. Unfortunately, only the facilities at Buchanan are being refurbished due to lack of funds.

Adding insult to injury, the LWSC boss told the committee that the existing pipes that were built in the 1960s have corroded and most no longer have use. He lamented the lack of funds battling the LWSC as the corporation is finding ways for possible replacement.

“The 36-inch pipe which serves majority of the customers has been severely corroded to the point that it can give up any time,” the report stated.

Like the corroded pipes, the report also highlighted that as a result of Liberia’s civil war, many storage facilities were vandalized, thereby rendering the LWSC ineffective for its limited storage capability. During discussion with the committee, the LWSC claimed that 60% of bills are not delivered.

“The LWSC does not know the location of most of its customers and therefore are unable to deliver about 60% of the monthly bills. If 60% of bills are not delivered, income from collection is bound to be insignificant, and thus the finances of the corporation are bound to always be in red,” the report highlighted.

In 2008, the Government of Liberia launched the Poverty Reduction Strategy, or PRS, to put the nation’s course to development. Among other goals, the plan promised that access to water would double in four years.

Since then, little has been done to replace old infrastructure damaged during Liberia’s civil war.

Though majority of the Senators voted in favor of the recommendation, Senators Varney Sherman, Joseph Nagbe and Mathew Jaye opposed the recommendation to privatize the sector.

Senator Sherman said he believes that the problem with LWSC is the Legislature. According to him, if the entity is given enough subsidies, it will be empowered to provide water for all Liberians. He said he believes that privatizing the sector will mean a private entity profiteering from Liberians who should have free access to water.

“We need to work with LWSC. Until we can make LWSC better, we will not be able to attract private investment,” Senator Sherman said.

 Henry karmo (0886522495) [email protected]

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