JIS News

The National Water Commission (NWC), as part of its efforts to streamline operations to adequately meet the demands of its customers, has introduced measures to increase efficiencies, including the merger of a number of its divisions.
Water and Housing Minister, Donald Buchanan, speaking at a press conference held recently at his New Kingston office to give an update on the restructuring effort, explained that the five former regions had now been collapsed into two divisions with eight areas, in place of the former eleven districts.
As such, the eastern division now encompasses Portland, St. Mary, St. Thomas, Clarendon, St. Catherine and Kingston and St. Andrew, while the western division entails Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St. James, Hanover, Trelawny and St. Ann. Courtney Lawes has been appointed Vice President of the Eastern Division while Florence Logan is now the Vice President of the Western Division.
Mr. Buchanan stated that, “within these two divisions, there will be considerable reorganisation to put the requisite focus on such critical areas of operation such as maintenance of facilities, customer relations, quality assurance, unaccounted for water reduction and finance and administration”.
The entire restructuring process will see the cutting of some 500 positions, he informed, which will reduce employee costs from 50 per cent of expenditure to 30 per cent.
He said the restructuring exercise, which commenced last month, had so far seen 38 appointments being made, beginning with the filling of top managerial positions, while some 170 employees have been “separated” from the organisation, inclusive of voluntary separations.
Mr. Buchanan stated that since its inception, the NWC had never obtained the levels of tariff necessary to put it in a position to properly maintain and operate its facilities or to replace existing installation and expand systems to new areas. He added that many production facilities were operating well below capacity, while employee and electricity costs were consuming up to 70 per cent of revenue, a situation which was further compounded by poor collection and poor customer service.
It was against this background that a review of the NWC and its stakeholders, including employees, the Ministry, the unions, and the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), was conducted by KPMG Peat Marwick in 2001. The audit recommended that the NWC go through a period of consolidation and during that time, the rate of expansion by the NWC would slow to allow for focus on reengineering of operations to adequately meet customer needs.
This reengineering process, the report said, would improve the company’s financial situation through cost savings from efficiency gains and review of rates, and the application of modern technologies and improved administrative facilities. It was also recommended that the expansion of service in rural Jamaica take place through another entity within the Ministry, with the NWC assuming operational control of new facilities on a programmed basis.
Emphasizing that the Peat Marwick audit was only one component of the restructuring of the NWC, Mr. Buchanan said the US$80 million Kingston Metropolitan Water Supply and Rehabilitation Programme, and the US$50 Kingston Water and Sanitation project currently being negotiated, would provide a comprehensive overhaul of the NWC and its systems and processes and, “significantly make a massive assault on the monster of unaccounted for water”.
Describing the overhaul as the most comprehensive programme of reform to which the NWC has ever been subjected, Mr. Buchanan said, “the clear intention is that at the end of all these initiatives, the NWC must be off our budget”.

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