Government signed a US$12M contract with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on Wednesday, to ensure a reliable supply of potable water to more than 30,000 residents in Region 10.
Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh inked the contract with IDB Representative to Guyana Marco Nicola, in the presence of Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali and residents at Linden Enterprise Network building.
According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), Singh told the gathering that the contract followed closely on the heels of a commitment President Bharrat Jagdeo made to the community in April, during a Cabinet outreach. Since that time, officials from the housing and water and finance ministries have been working to realise those plans, he said.
Singh said the project is expected to boost the Linden economy by influencing the purchase of goods and creating jobs. “We operate in a global environment where resources are finite and when the President at the Cabinet level makes a decision to invest US$12M in single project [it] is not a casual decision…and we don’t only look at the financial and economic dimensions of the project but at the multiplier, the direct and in-direct impact as well as the long-term benefits of the project,” the minister was quoted as saying.
He also said that government has put in place the policy framework and has created conditions that will attract foreign investment. The minister noted that while the bauxite industry is winding down elsewhere as a result of the global financial meltdown, it continues to operate in Guyana.
Ali, meanwhile, in his address, reflected on the progress made in the sector from 2006, where access to potable water has moved from 25 to 45 per cent. He said this progress will continue to greater heights as government seeks to improve access from 45 per cent to 65 per cent within the next five years. “You will enjoy here in Region Ten, pressure and flow of water equivalent to any citizen in any part of a developed world, …you will enjoy it at a fraction of the cost they enjoy it at, and that is because the government continues to assist in carrying the operating cost,” Ali noted.
Ali also said government and the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) are working aggressively on a new strategic plan that will allow the company to break even within the next five years. “If we are to check the investment for capital here in Linden you would see that we have invested over $18,000 per capita or for every individual who lives in Linden… for water alone,” he said.
According to Ali the new programme has three components that will see the construction of two water treatments plants at Amelia’s Ward and Wisroc; the reduction of non-revenue water; and the institutional strengthening of the Linden water supply management system. “The programme will also see the upgrading of water transmission and distribution mains, construction of one elevated and one ground storage reservoir and installation of three booster stations,” he added. A total of 30 km of pipes would be laid in this project.
In addition, Nicola said that the collaboration between the government and the Bank in the water sector has grown tremendously over the years. “The bank has worked with GWI during periods of change and during difficult times to improve the supply of potable water,” he said.
According to Nicola, Guyana has been selected as one of the countries to be part of Caribbean Regional Wastewater Management, financial mechanism pilot project that will allow it to benefit from a US$3M grant. He also said the IDB’s collaboration with the ministry, GWI and the Linden community has been a vibrant partnership over the years and that it will continue into the future.
Region 10 Region Chairman Mortimer Mingo said the project will enhance the quality and service of water for more than 30,000 Lindeners.
GINA said this year saw the commissioning of Water Treatment Plants at Lima on the Essequibo Coast, Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo and Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice, at a collective cost of $366.3M. More than 48,000 residents, it added, have benefited from these projects. Also, the plants at Central Ruimveldt and Sophia were completed at a cost of $403.1M and more than 50,000 people in Georgetown and its environs can now boast of an unprecedented supply of water to their homes and communities.