NWC responds to report of big bills in Crawle, St Catherine
THE National Water Commission (NWC), in its response to a June 5 Jamaica Observer story titled ‘Little Water, Big Bills’, said it is important to state that the commission supports the right of every consumer to query his or her bill.
“In fact, we encourage consumer activism as educated and informed consumers help us to be an accountable utility. Additionally, we have consistently advocated for consumers to visit our website ( www.nwcjamaica.com) where they can request clarification about their bills via the Web-chat portal. Persons without Internet access can always call our toll free number 888-225-5692 to speak with a customer service representative,” said NWC President Mark Barnett.
In response to issues raided by customers in Crawle, it said:
“Two customers from the Crawle community in St Catherine, were identified as having concerns with bills that they received from the NWC. They were Mary Rose and Issac Newton. Each will be dealt with in turn. It must be noted, however, that it is not the NWC’s policy to engage in public discussions regarding the details pertaining to any customer’s account, and so our response would be very mindful of the privacy with which customer information is treated.”
After a review, our billing records have revealed that the charges on the bill in question include an accumulation over a period of time. The message conveyed in the article suggests Ms Rose received a single bill of $259,450.26, which is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.
An investigation is already underway.
Regarding Mr Newton, immediately after assessing the issues raised in the news item, as a responsible utility we promptly started an investigation.
The findings will be communicated to the customer and the appropriate action taken.
Water Supply Improvement
“Over the last two years, the NWC has expanded its pipeline infrastructure in the Crawle community through the installation of 1.7 kilometres of two-inch PVC and galvanised pipes, as well as 0.5 kilometres of one-inch galvanised and PVC pipes. However, the population of the community has outgrown the original water supply source and as such they receive water two days per week.
“Efforts are underway to improve supply to the area with the commissioning of a new well source at Chicken Well to support the existing two wells that currently serve the community, thus vastly improving the service delivery to the residents of Crawle,” said Barnett.
Regularisation of consumers, installation of water metres
He said: “The NWC faces the challenging task of illegal tapping into our water supply network and when approached often times those who are illegally using the commodity refuse to become regularised. This is similarly experienced in the community of Crawle. Despite the resistance, we are continuing our exercise to regularise consumers and install water metres to ensure consumptions are accurately measured, reflecting household usage. In fact, 28 metres were installed over the weekend of June 6, 2020. However, consistent with the general attitude to have persons become a legal customer of the NWC, the response to date is very poor. Such behaviour perpetuates wastage but more significantly it affects the service to others within the community.
“Customers should be reminded that there should be no fear where bills are concerned. Adjustments or credits are made when warranted due to specific circumstances. Customers are reminded to regularly monitor their water usage and practise conservation measures to reduce water consumption. Those who have a high bill at the moment may be eligible for a thirty per cent discount under the COVID Assistance Programme, details of which are available at our commercial offices or on our website at www.nwc.jamaica.com ,” said Barnett.
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