JIS News

The Ministry of Water and Housing will be hosting a workshop for prospective bidders for the construction and operation of four water delivery systems under the Rural Water and Sanitation Programme.
The workshop will be held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston from September 30 to October 1. Jointly funded by the Government of Jamaica and the International Development Bank (IDB) at a cost of US$12.5 million, the Rural Water and Sanitation Programme is a new approach to the delivery of water in rural Jamaica, and calls for a tripartite agreement among registered community entities, known as benevolent societies, the Water Ministry and contractors.
Under the agreement, beneficiary communities are required to pay 10 per cent of the construction cost and will be responsible for the operation of the system five years after construction.
The project is expected to be implemented as a pilot in White Horses/Botany Bay/Pampret in St. Thomas; Gravel Hill, Clarendon; Cotterwood, St. Elizabeth and Mile Gully in St. Mary and private sector involvement is being sought or the construction of water supply systems in these areas.
Donovan Stanberry, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Water and Housing, told JIS News that over 100 persons were expected to participate in the workshop. This figure includes 45 contractors, representatives of benevolent societies, and persons from the allied Ministries and related agencies.
He said the event was designed to address the concerns of the contractors, who would, for the first time, be required to submit tenders not only for the construction of the water systems, but also for their operation.
This is a major departure from current practice, where the contractor of a utility system and the operator are not usually the same.
To function as operators, the contractors will be required to obtain licences from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), which will regulate the functioning of the systems to ensure they meet the required service standards.
“Each of these water delivery systems will have a tariff, which is unique to that particular system. So these contractors will be essentially operating as operators of water utilities, albeit in a designated and distinct locale,” Mr. Stanberry explained.
He told JIS News that during the two-day meeting, the contractors would be assisted in putting bids together and would be provided with a practical demonstration of how the project could be viable. “One of the presenters will look on a case and demonstrate to them that money can in fact be made from the project,” he told JIS News.
Dr. Andrew Livingstone, an expert in rural-managed water systems from Canada, will be presenting successful cases in community-based water supply systems in countries similar to Jamaica.
In addition, the four benevolent societies – Whitehorses/Botany Bay/Pamphret Development Benevolent Society of St. Thomas; Gravel Hill Community Benevolent Society of Clarendon; Five Star Development Benevolent Society of St. Elizabeth; and Mile Gully/Warwick Castle Benevolent Society of St. Mary – will exchange experiences in terms of how they have prepared for the project and some of the critical challenges that they face.
“One of the things that we want to do as well is to look at the particular capacity building agenda at this stage because we have to assist the benevolent societies to really develop their expertise as water service providers,” said Linnette Vassell, Community Development and Gender Specialist for the programme.Successful rural-managed water systems can be found in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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