Diamond’s water woes triggering exploitative entrepreneurial pursuits

– GWI says water delivery to affected areas is free

Part of the challenge associated with the expansion of Guyana’s coastal housing programme is the difficulty ensuring that the provision of services for residential communities keeps pace with the creation of the communities.

Currently, the not-so-new Diamond Housing Scheme located approximately 11 miles south of the capital is facing that challenge with respect to the supply of a particularly critical resource, water. At an earlier stage of its development, the Diamond Housing Scheme housed some ten thousand residents and was served with potable water by the Guyana Water Incorporated’s (GWI) Golden Grove pump station. By 2009, however, the significant increase in the number of residents of the scheme created a notable spike in the demand for water and prompted the drilling of a new well by GWI.  It was this development, some residents of the Diamond Housing Scheme told Stabroek Business earlier this week that triggered the community’s current water woes.

The infrastructure serving Diamond was created reportedly at a cost of $55 million and was intended to serve the expanded needs of the community. Two years into its life, frequent breakdowns began to call into question its ability to serve its purpose. It was not uncommon for residents to be left without water for many days.

Initially, Bibi, a Diamond resident said, GWI attributed the blame for the malfunctioning service on what it said was the erratic electricity supply provided by the Guyana Power and Light Company even as the number of residents moving to Diamond grew and the periods of absence of water continued to lengthen.

The out of service Diamond Well
The out of service Diamond Well

From Tuesday June 21 and at least up to Wednesday last when Stabroek Business visited Diamond, residents had been without access to potable water through the GWI service. According to a GWI official, the current problem is attributable to the continued pressure been placed on the well to supply a community that continues to grow. The facility, a GWI official told this newspaper, is simply overworked.

Diamond’s water woes have now become a major community concern. A young mother with whom Stabroek Business spoke disclosed that the circumstances have resulted in her exercising the option of temporary relocation. The solution, the residents say, is for GWI to make more significant investments in upgrading the service.

During this newspaper’s Wednesday, June 29, visit to the well site, engineers and technicians were seen attempting to restore the well to an operable state. In the meantime, the water company has pressed truck and Canter owners into service to deliver water to the community in an effort to mitigate the situation. That, too has not been without its challenges. While the GWI’s emergency service is, a company official says, free of cost, it appears that the water shortage has triggered an entrepreneurial opportunity that may have reached the proportions of gouging the hapless residents.

 Loading up to deliver water to Diamond residents
Loading up to deliver water to Diamond residents

Several Diamond residents with whom Stabroek Business spoke suggest that what ought to be a free service intended to bring a measure of relief to the community has been set upon by “mercenaries” some of whom are demanding up to $5,000 to fill a 450-gallon tank. Customarily, a GWI official told this newspaper, purchasers can fill a 450-gallon tank at a well at a cost of $1,200.

GWI, through its Public Relations Office maintains that the service, for the duration of the community’s water woes, continues to be fully financed by the company. In concedes that reports confirming that the sale of water at exorbitant prices have been made to the company but that it does not lie within its power to put an end to the practice. Meanwhile, a company official has told this newspaper, the longer-term solution lies in expanding the service by creating more wells, one of which can cost between $3 million and $5 million to sink.

As the residential build out continues, it appears that residents will have to settle – for the time being at least – for temporary water woes. Stabroek Business understands that the lower East Bank is served by wells located in at Eccles, Coven Garden, Golden Grove and Diamond. The well at Diamond is the only one without a reservoir. For the time being the temporary discontinuation of service would appear to have become an occupational hazard and, this newspaper has been informed, whenever a station in any of the four villages is down, the other three would allow residents of the affected community to fill unlimited containers free of cost.

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