The Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) has recorded an increase in revenues of over $200 million for the first six months of this year as compared to last year, despite an estimate of over 1,000 customers still owing the utility over $100,000 each.
Speaking at the water company’s mid-year review, Managing Director Richard Van West-Charles said, “We have seen the increase in terms of the revenue, but we are now moving aggressively in disaggregating the data sets to the point that we are now able to discern customers in each zone, which we have divided up the country into.”
Van West-Charles explained that customers are now divided into categories: those who pay their bills within the first 31 days, those who pay between 31 and 60 days, and those who take longer than 90 days to pay.
“Now what we intend to do with this data is that we have to ensure, as we go forward with the new tariff, which has been approved by the PUC [Public Utilities Commission], to ensure that people actually pay the fixed charge to address some of the distribution network [issues] that require attention,” he said.
According to Marlon Daniels, Executive Director of Customer Services, GWI has seen an increase of over $200 million in revenues, reaching a total of $2 billion, as compared to $1.8 billion for the same period last year.
This, Daniels explained, is credited to better data analysis, which was done by splitting the entire country into zones, where it is able to “identify street by street the delinquent customers” who are reminded of their overdue bills.
“We reminded customers when their bills are almost due and customers that are on contract we reminded them. It is a combination of things, but it’s the effort we have placed in debt collection,” Daniels added, while stating that there is currently approximately $3 billion that is still owed to accounts receivables.
Van West-Charles also explained that they are introducing new devices which will be used to “plug” access to the water once customers do not pay their bills on time.
“Additionally, we are going to be intensifying the whole metering of different regions. The results of the metering out of the IDB/EU (Inter-American Development Bank/European Union)- funded project which is being executed in Sheet Anchor, Uitvlugt and Diamond have proven great success. In Sheet Anchor, as a result, we have been able to take two stations off which shows the benefits of metering in terms of conservation and reducing non-revenue water losses in the country,” he explained, while noting that it should be important to the customers, as much as the company, since it also impacts on the quality and the pressure of the water they receive.
Van West-Charles added that they will be prioritising their commercial customers for the metering project and emphasised that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has mandated them to ensure that they meter at least 12,000 customers.
He also noted that their aggressive campaign has resulted in the countrywide disconnection of customers who owe more than $100,000. Currently they are disconnecting customers that owe more than $150,000.
In addition to disconnections, the company has also decided to take legal actions against persons who owe over $100,000.
Company Secretary Nigel Niles noted that for persons who do not respond positively to their demand letters they will be filing legal actions against them. He noted yesterday they were able to get judgment against three customers in Berbice.
“We’ve received lists from the East Coast of Demerara, Georgetown, the West Coast of Demerara and Anna Regina, so we are going to start working on those lists for this month via demand letters and based on the responses, we will take it to the next level,” he explained, while noting that there are over 1,000 customers who have been forwarded by the different departments who will receive demand letters and have possibly have legal action taken against them.