GWI rehabilitates over 600 city fire hydrants

A hydrant on Robb Street that was restored by GWI during a previous rehabilitation exercise. (Stabroek News file photo)

The Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has spent over $25 million to rehabilitate more than 600 fire hydrants around the city, Managing Director of the company Dr. Richard Van West-Charles said yesterday.

At a press conference to update the public on the company’s performance over the last six months, Van West-Charles announced that major works have been done on a large number of fire hydrants in Georgetown and revealed that the company also has plans to fix 500 more hydrants.

“We have done a lot with respect to fire hydrants. We replaced a number of fire hydrants throughout Georgetown and the fire hydrants are not really a defined responsibility of GWI but we have taken up that mantle and we have refurbished more than 600 fire hydrants throughout the city in different wards,” Van West-Charles said, while noting that the work has been done in collaboration with the Guyana Fire Service (GFS).

“We know that this is an issue, not only for Georgetown but other communities, and we are seeking to work with the CH&PA [Central Housing and Planning Authority] and other agencies to ensure that fire hydrants become a mainstream activity for new communities which are emerging,” he added.

He noted that for the rehabilitation of the hydrants, some required the replacement of the entire stand-post, while others required the replacement of valves.

“It was totally non-functional and we replaced those and we also tidied up some and another thing we must understand is that they were vandalised so they could not be connected to the Fire Service’s fire hose and we had to replace them,” he noted, while adding that to make it harder for them to be vandalised, they have installed devices to properly secure the hydrants.

It was also stated that there are more than 500 more fire hydrants that will have to be repaired throughout the city and that there is a need for more to be installed, since the city has significantly expanded since the were originally installed.

In terms of maintenance of the fire hydrants, Van West-Charles noted that the GWI will also take up the mantle and ensure that they are regularly maintained.

Meanwhile, Van West-Charles also said that GWI has conducted comprehensive maintenance works on various sewer systems throughout the city. Works were done in Stevedore Housing Scheme, Tucville and Tucville Terrace, with a total of more than 2,575 residents benefitting.

Approximately 534 properties in Kingston also saw their sewer systems cleaned, which would have benefitted more than 6,000 residents. Van West-Charles said the company has been visiting house to house and cleaning sewers in Charlestown, Wortmanville and has also maintained some in-yard sewers, thereby benefitting more than 12,000 residents in total.

“It is being looked at and we are working on a behaviour change that is required. We’ve also had to work with the restaurant owners to have an increase in the grease traps to avoid all of the fat accumulating in the sewers,” he noted.

Additionally, the utility company has also installed more sophisticated monitors in the sewers to detect the type and concentration of harmful gases.

“This is a significant advance and it is important in terms of where we place workers’ health in the stream of things within the company. The sanitation department has been doing a lot of work in the sewers,” he said, while noting that they often face the challenge of finding various types of materials in the sewers that should not be there and as a result they are working aggressively to have a new design of the sewer system to trap those materials to ensure that the system will be functioning efficiently.

He added that they are also working towards constructing a bath for the sewer workers so that they can clean themselves there before leaving work since “it’s very critical and important for their own health, the public and their families.”

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