March 10, 2015
CWSA concessions for disconnected customers are ‘not enough’ – Eustace

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace is adamant that the occasional concessions for disconnected Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) customers is not enough to rectify the overall issue of persons being unable to afford reconnection fees.

Speaking on {{more}}the New Democratic Party’s ‘New Times’ radio programme (Nice FM) yesterday, Eustace read a letter from CWSA general manager Garth Saunders that responded to Eustace’s recent call for the $100 reconnection fee to be waived for six months for disconnected customers.

Saunders stated in his letter that customers are only disconnected when they are in excess of four months of non-payment – something no other utility service provider affords its customers. He also explained that the CWSA periodically waives reconnection fees at Christmas time and during the annual Water Week – which this year will be marked March 22 – 28.

Emphasizing the serious negative impact that water disconnection can have on households, Eustace said: “It is not enough… some latitude needs to be exercised in relation to water… There needs to be some further consideration!”

In his response to Eustace, Saunders also stated that the CWSA shares the concerns that Eustace raised in his initial letter to the company, dated March 3, 2015, but believes that a six-month waiver on the reconnection fee would not be beneficial in the long run.

“While we acknowledge the benefit of having fewer disconnected customers, we believe that a protracted period without a deterrant of a penalty will also have the opposite effect of encouraging new delinquencies,” explained Saunders.

“It is, therefore, our intention to closely monitor all disconnected customers and, in extreme circumstances, offer assistance where necessary for a short term and less predictable period.”

The Opposition Leader pointed out that with water rates being low, the fact that persons still experience difficulty paying their bill is not the fault of Saunders or the CWSA, but an indication that something is “fundamentally wrong” with the economy and how it is performing.

“There are people in our society who are so beaten down by our present economic circumstances, the reality is they cannot afford some of the services provided!”

Eustace said that while he appreciates Saunders’ prompt response, he will still be pushing for a waiver to be introduced – the length of which can be determined by the CWSA Board.