The Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has launched a monthly billing programme in order to reduce losses it has racked up due to customers being in arrears under the current quarterly billing system, including $1.4 billion so far for this year.
The monthly billing for metered customers will begin from this month, while it will be launched for unmetered customers next year, company officials announced at a news conference yesterday.
GWI’s Finance Director Jaigopaul Ram said that the company’s current cash collection capacity was functional at around 70% and it is aiming for a 5% increase by the end of the year.
He said that a more aggressive and active billing and payment system, implemented on a monthly cycle, would see to the increase.
Of the over 170,000 customers in the company’s database, approximately 130,000 are active and of those GWI estimates that 50% are currently in arrears. For 2014 alone, over 10,000 customers have been disconnected.
According to the Customer Services Manager Jeanette Thomas, the company currently has up to seven business days to reconnect customers who have been disconnected but tries to send reconnection crews within three days.
While acknowledging that illegal reconnections were problematic, Thomas said that from her estimation only about 5% of customers perform illegal reconnections. She noted that customers who illegally reconnect are tampering with the water supply, which puts others on the network in harm’s way.
She noted that GWI has hired more staff to adequately assist in the monthly billing and monitoring. Thomas said that countrywide there are approximately 48 meter readers and 70,000 customers utilising meters.
Thomas noted that the monthly billing is also intended to reduce the instances of estimated billing.
She called for customers to ensure the access to their meters or estimated billing is likely to continue. She said that the monthly cycle will result in more of a routine so customers will know when the readers are to be in their area.
Bills will be generated on a 30-day cycle and customers will have up to a week to make payments. The company noted that the new programme is to provide a more consistent system that aligns with the other major utilities.