27 February 2018

Gambia: Water Supply Interrupted in Wellingara, Environs

The National Water and Electric Company (NAWEC) has interrupted the supply of water in streets taps in Wellingara and environs, apparently because KMC has defaulted in the payment of bills. This reporter visited the community on Friday 23rd February 2018, and found the street taps dysfunctional. The street taps are used by the less privileged who cannot afford to extend the service to their compounds or houses. Most of them now use water from wells to cook.

Speaking to Foroyaa, a staff posted at the NAWEC sub-branch in Wellingera, said the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) was responsible to pay for the bills of the street taps within the Municipality, but that the Municipal Council said they cannot pay the bills anymore because of wastage. "The manner in which water is wasted in the area is serious. People do not worry about this because they are not paying the bills directly," he said. The NAWEC told this reporter that the KMC should also be in the right position to explain why they decided to close the street taps.

Residents of the area especially those who cannot afford taps to their compounds, told this reporter that they rely on the street taps to get clean water; that water is life and most of them now using water from the wells to cook and do other things. "We voted for change in order to have a better living but the opposite is what is happening to us. In those days it was better because we were supplied with water," they lamented.

Fatoumatta Sillah the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), said some street taps are closed within the jurisdiction of KMC because the Municipal Council wants the communities to take responsibility and ownership of these taps in their various communities. She added that the transfer of ownership and responsibility of taking care of these stand pipes is part of the decentralization process; that Council is working hand in glove with NAWEC through their commercial director, to reopen the taps and that the process is ongoing.

"Forms are being giving out to various communities to be filled and each community will select a committee to be responsible of taking care of their taps. The members of this committee will attach copies of their ID cards to the forms. We want to transfer the taps back to the communities and it will now be left to them to formulate the means on how to sustain and maintain their taps," she said. PRO Sillah further stated that as far as the KMC is concerned, they will no longer be responsible for paying the bills or maintaining the taps; that this will be done by the communities themselves. "The people should not feel that as tax payers they should be provided with water without cost. Council is not here to supply water only but to build markets and other facilities for the general welfare of all and sundry," she noted. She said they are working to make sure that the taps are re-opened; that the closure of the taps is not because Council cannot afford to pay the bills but that they want to decentralize and give back the community the duty of taking care of these street taps. PRO Sillah said she is not a politician but vows to serve the community as a public servant and that she is ready to work with any Government that comes to power. She said water is life and Council did not close the taps to make the people to suffer.

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