In 2014 the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) encountered its share of challenges and constraints due primarily to the deadly Ebola virus and some funding gaps.
One major challenge faced by LWSC and the bane of most large and small entities throughout the nation is the cost of power supply needed to operate.
In the case of LWSC, the management relies on one major power supply source, a 1700 kilowatt diesel generator that consumes enormous fuel oil to the detriment of the Corporation.
Not only is the cost of fuel oil for a large scale operation like LWSC prohibitive, but the maintenance cost on its generator is equally considerable.
The Corporation continued to encounter technical breakdowns during 2014 thus hindering the pumping of safe drinking water into Monrovia and its environs.
The popular slogan ‘Big Water Today and Small Water Tomorrow’ is used by LWSC customers with an equal mix of approval and dissatisfaction as the system made some significant strides and stumbles in the provision of safe drinking in some critical parts of Monrovia
LWSC undertook several water development projects in urban Monrovia and some rural parts of Liberia signifying that the Liberian Government has some degree of confidence in the current management of LWSC, well-placed sources in the Corporation told the Daily Observer.
These sources say plans are underway to ensure that before end of the year 2015 an additional generating unit will be installed in order to enhance the provision of safe drinking water to Monrovia and its environs. LWSC executives told the Daily Observer that the funds for the procurement will be provided by the Liberian Government.
Such confidence was manifested during the year under review when the Liberian Government provided funds to rehabilitate the 112 damaged kiosks (hand pumps) in various communities and 43 public latrines, reflecting a sixty percent increase in access to safe drinking water in deprived communities in Monrovia.
The renovated latrines were turned over last year to the General Services Agency (GSA).
Another success story of the LWSC was its improved billing and customer service which have provided a significant increase in cash flow, permitting the Corporation to utilize funds provided through government budget to be utilized for capital expenditure.
Meanwhile the LWSC’s Board of Directors has also continued to monitor and provide substantive oversight of Liberia’s prime water agency.
A heightened level of government confidence and financial reporting have led other stakeholders such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank to show support for the management of LWSC.
With regard to outstation facilities, three city water projects are being funded by USAID under the Liberia Municipal Water Project (LMWP). A 12 hour regular water supply has been restored to Kakata City in Margibi County and improved access via a two-kilometer pipeline for services to Robertsport in Grand Cape Mount County is to be completed within the next two weeks.
Technical officials of the LWSC also disclosed that the subsequent phase in the next 18 months is to cover the rest of Robertsport with Voinjama City and Sanniquellie City scheduled for 18 to 24 months hence.
However, under the AfDB project for Zwedru, Kakata and Buchanan Cities, the sanitation works commenced but were suspended due to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease in the country.
Meanwhile Monrovia, which comprises a significant portion of the nation’s population, continues to experience an insufficient supply of safe drinking water.
Under a 90-day program it is planned that by the end of March 2015, central Monrovia should have increased access to the same level of services now being experienced by the rural parts of Monrovia and its environs.
The 90 day action plan which was previously underway but stalled due to funding constraints, will improve water access in the areas of Randall, Broad, Carey, Ashmun and Newport streets, Mamba Point as well as Clara Town.
When the renovation works for the Water Treatment Plant at White Plains have been tendered in early 2015 and are completed within 12 months, the citizens and residents of Monrovia will enjoy a three hundred percent increase in potable water, according to LWSC management.
In 2014 LWSC continued to be challenged with limited sewer services, inadequate equipment including de-slugging trucks on one hand and beleaguered on the other by citizens’ apathy, failure to report damages to distribution lines and water theft.
In spite of these perennial setbacks, water supply to Monrovia increased from four million gallons per day to six million gallons and 12 hours pumping schedule during the year under review, according to top LWSC’s officials
The officials also explained that, for the second year in a row, its customers have come to expect the delivery of water as a norm, rather than an exception.
The Managing Director of LWSC, Mr. Charles B. Allen, during an interview with this newspaper, assured Liberians, foreign residents and customers that the greater Monrovia will in the near future be connected to the system’s water delivery services in homes and business entities.
He disclosed that construction work has resumed on the 36 inch pipeline from the White Plains Plant in Careyburg to several parts of central Monrovia intended to enhance the smooth delivery of safe drinking water.