Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is advising residents with illegal water connections to regularise their service with the National Water Commission (NWC) as the Government works to have the commodity equitably distributed to all citizens.
“You have a very sympathetic and understanding government. There is no need to steal water. If you come to the NWC and say, ‘I want to regularise’, we will find a way to regularise you. We will find a way to ensure that you can pay according to your needs,” he said.
The Prime Minister was addressing the virtual contract signing ceremony for the US$13-million Portmore Co-management Non-Revenue Water (NRW) Reduction Programme, at Jamaica House on Thursday (December 17).
Mr. Holness stressed that the view of some citizens that they are not a part of the State and, therefore, should steal from the establishment “should end now in Jamaica”.
“Jamaica is our country; we own it, so we shouldn’t steal from it,” he said, noting, however, that persons with illegal connections, should not fear being deprived of water.
“The Government isn’t saying that you should be without water; that is not the position of the Government. The posture of the Government is to ensure that every citizen, regardless of your state [or] your financial circumstance, that we can find a way to accommodate you, especially with things that I consider to be basic human rights… basic human needs,” he said.
The Prime Minister further said that citizens should never feel that they can consume water “and escape payment because somebody else is going to pay for it”, emphasising that “that is not the case”.
He noted that the Government will have to recover the cost from theft in some way, “whether it is some form of surcharge or tax on gas, whether it is you pay more for services that the Government gives in terms of the… charging fees; in some way, the Government has to collect the revenue”.
“All of us still end up paying for it; some may pay for it more than others. But it is still the citizens who will have to pay, because the tax level will affect all citizens,” he said.
Mr. Holness noted that knowledge of the consumption needs of all citizens will help the Government in providing improved water supply at reduced rates.
“It is in having everyone on the system, knowing what your consumption is, [and] being able to plan and budget for what your consumption is likely to be, that we can bring down the rates,” he said.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister noted that under the Portmore Co-management Non-Revenue Water (NRW) Reduction Programme, the Government will seek to put more residents of the Municipality on to the formal water network.
“We have about 54,000 connections… but probably if you were to add in the illegal connections, you would have several more thousands to add,” he said.
The five-year programme aims to lessen water losses in Portmore and aid in increasing the NWC’s overall efficiency.
Programmed activities are to be undertaken by the NWC in partnership with global water utility company Miya Water Jamaica, under a performance-based contract.