GWI urges installation, cleaning of grease traps after manhole accident

Following a woman and her daughter falling into an open manhole on Monday, the Guyana Water Incor-porated (GWI) yesterday issued an appeal to businesses involved in food preparation to install and constantly clean grease traps.

“The company continues to experience numerous reports of overflowing sewerage which has resulted from sewer pipes becoming clogged due to coagulated fats and oils used for food preparation by restaurants and hotels,” a statement from GWI said.

Alisha Thomas, 22, and her two-year-old daughter Hayley were injured when they fell into an open manhole outside of the KFC in the downtown Stabroek area. The two were rushed to a city hospital, where they were later treated and sent away.

When contacted yesterday, Thomas said that they were resting and doing much better.

When Stabroek News made contact with the KFC branch, a woman who identified herself as the manager said that she has nothing to say on the matter. Thomas’s mother had told this newspaper that when they went into the food outlet to seek assistance, the workers chased them away.

GWI Public Relations Officer Timothy Austin told Stabroek News that the utility company had written to the fast food restaurant several times about the issue. “We have written to them before, about two times during the latter part of last year. We are in the process of writing to them again about the incident,” Austin said.

Austin informed that based on information gathered from GWI’s sanitation team, several persons in the area have alleged that workers from the outlet removed the cover from the manhole to ease the fat out of the sewerage chamber.

Austin added that in light of the recent media reports regarding persons being injured due to the removal of a sewer chamber cover by unauthorised persons, the company wishes to advise that it is an offence to tamper with any device under the purview of the Guyana Water Incorporated as stipulated by the Water and Sewerage Act 2002.

According to GWI, in excess of seven sewerage overflows per week are recorded by the sanitation department, which is as a result of restaurants and hotels not installing grease traps or failing to clean the devices.

The company’s statement added that through the Government of Guyana/Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) US$10,000,000 George-town Sanitation Improve-ment Programme (GSIP), GWI is currently rehabilitating the entire sewerage system in an effort to alleviate sewerage overflows.  However, without residents utilising the system properly, the improvements will yield poor results.

The statement further added that through the GSIP, a seminar is expected to be held for hotel and restaurant owners within the second quarter of 2014 to provide education on the installation and correct use of the grease trap. In addition, GWI conducts scheduled inspections of hotels and restaurants to ensure that grease traps are being effectively utilised; the company also provides advice for hotel and restaurant owners on the correct use of the device via its call centre and Sanitation Department.

“The company is alarmed by recent events and urges all residents of Georgetown to report any instances of tampering particularly the removal of sewer chamber covers immediately to GWI,” the statement added.

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