The dredging fee/fund

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By Victor E. Girard

“Nothing is a We business until it reach crisis” – Boo

As we begin a New Year, may I take this opportunity to wish the citizenry God’s richest blessings. I trust that as St Lucia begins a New dispensation there will be respect for our Constitution, our patrimony, our heritage, our conventions and the rule of law. And that our country will be developed equitably so that we all may have a share of the development pie.

Now to the dredging fee which was established in April 2013 when the National Water and Sewerage Commission (NWSC) awarded the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) a 66.15% increase in water rates of which a 10.43% was decoupled for the purpose of dredging the John Compton dam.

WASCO in its application for a tariff increase stated inter alia that it was selling water at a rate which was less than what it cost to produce. The company also indicated that it needed to dredge the dam which was filled with silt reducing its capacity to hold water about 23. The fund was first established for a two year period based on the estimated cost of $6,000,000. You may recall that around that time a heavy drought was forecasted. Thank God we have been having rain instead but which means, the percentage of silt to capacity may have increased.

In 2015 it was determined that the $6,000,000 was woefully below a revised cost of $27.451 million. As a consequence WASCO requested that NWSC approve an extension of the two year period. Which as far as I can recall was under consideration by the latter.

The public was duly informed of WASCO’s request and NWSC’s agreement to keep the fee in effect, pending a final decision. Public information leaflet issued by the NWSC in late 2015 indicated that approximately 11 million dollars were available in the dredging fund.

At the same time WASCO was informed by the CDB of its approval of a loan under the guarantee of the Government to finance the desilting and rehabilitating the dam.

I am constrained to write on this matter since

  1. It is over two years approval of the loan was granted and as far as I am aware not one grain of silt has been removed from the dam,
  2. We the consumers are left in the dark whilst monies are being collected from us on a monthly basis.
  3. It boggles the mind that we continue to hear of proposals to increase our hotel room stock by 2,000 and wonder how these extra rooms will be serviced with water.

I would like to know

  1. a) and I assume that the citizenry too, how much money is available in the dredging fund at the end of 2017?
  2. b)   What is the status of the loan which was approved by the CDB?
  3. When is the silting and rehabilitation work due to commence?
  4. Whether all the money collected from us as the dredging fee is kept in a separate account by WASCO and will be available to service the CDB loan?
  5. Has a decision been taken by the National Utilities Regulatory Commission (NURC) on WASCO’s request for an extension of the period and if so, what date at which the payment of the fee will end?

Please note NURC replaced NWSC.

  1. What is the status of the de-silting project and whether the CDB is still involved in the project?
  2. What is the current situation re silt content?
  3. Who has oversight of the funds collected?

NB Question d) is premised on what transpired at some stage when the fees were not placed in a separate account as required.

Victor E. Girard

Consumer/Former NWSC Commissioner

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  1. These are all wonderful questions. You are a nobody and you will not get a response. Authorities in this country to do respond to civil discourse. It is only when it gets to the point of aggression will they respond. When there is some serious revolt in this country it is only then the authorities will learn to respect the citizenry. Louis

    You pay taxes yet no sort of representation. Roads are a mess and cause more damage to your vehicles, hospitals are death traps, schools are crumbling. What happens to all those taxes that are collected? This country ranks highest in tax collection in the OECS.

    Absolute monarchs thought they were untouchable as are the politicians in this region. Just remember Louis Capet lost his head too because of:

    Rising social and economic inequality, economic mismanagement, environmental factors leading to agricultural failure, unmanageable national debt, and political mismanagement.

    See anything familiar?

  2. Good Letter.. Looking forward go a response.. Worst thing is that their financials are not available online

  3. I hope these monies are not in the pocket of the Forestierre 7 days thief. We all know he has a very good record.

  4. Brothers and Sisters let us not get political on this matter, the questions are of deep concern to the entire populace even those that don’t care. Try to avoid accusing persons in the absence of evidence. Let us all support the writer in the quest for answers to these very important questions. Answers are required urgently. Also remember that both political parties are involved and are linked to the questions asked, because SLP was in office when the request for the extension was made, they too must have a voice based on WASCO’s response. Have a blessed day. Great line of questioning, writer, nuf respect.

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