While the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has started works on rehabilitating the city’s aged water distribution system, the company’s Executive Director of Project Implementation and Partnership Building Ramchand Jailall says that fixing the priority areas could cost over US$40 million.
At a press conference on Friday, GWI’s Managing Director Dr Richard Van West-Charles was questioned about the water pressure around the city, after the Guyana Fire Service recently complained that the low pressure inhibited its use of hydrants during recent firefighting efforts, such as in the Pike Street, Kitty fire that destroyed four houses.
Van West-Charles, however, explained that whenever the pressure is increased in Central Georgetown, because of the age of the network, severe blowouts occur at random places.
“On the said morning… they attempted to raise the pressure with respect to Kitty, they did and we had a significant blowout of a 16 inch transmission line just outside of the Office of the Opposition Leader. Just two days ago, there was another 16 inch line that blew out opposite the Ministry of Agriculture… So we have a network that is very old,” he said, while indicating that the transmission lines that run along Church Street have been there for over a century.
As a result, he said it is important that the water company and the Government of Guyana find a solution with respect to the replacement of the “aged network” in Central Georgetown.
“It is very old and in terms of us increasing and maintaining the pressure, it is something we have to look at,” he noted.
When questioned about the cost of rehabilitating the system, Jailall pointed out that they are currently doing the works in phases, with the rehabilitation of the lines from the Shelter Belt to the Kitty Seawall along Vlissengen Road being funded by monies that were allocated by the government. Jailall also noted that the company has started works in Charlestown and Albouystown, where it has started to change some of the transmission lines.
He added that they are seeking to have additional works from the Shelter Belt to Cemetery Road and then to Central Ruimveldt undertaken through an Inter-American Development Bank/ European Union-funded programme.
“…It has been tendered and is being reviewed,” he said, while indicating that to rehabilitate the priority areas in Georgetown could possibly cost more than US$40 million.
“It’s an ongoing issue but we have a number of issues which the government is also addressing in terms of production. We have come out of a system that was not too well planned. For example, at the back of the southern side of Aubrey Barker, in Rasville and Roxanne Burnham [Gardens], they are not getting [water] 24/7 and that is because we haven’t got the production. We have new schemes coming up that we have to ensure that as lands are allocated, we are prepared to have the infrastructure in place together with the CH&PA [Central Housing and Planning Authority] to service those,” Van West-Charles also said.