By Mariama Marong and Mustapha Jallow
In order to ease the pain and suffering of customers in the Greater Banjul Area (GBA) and provinces, the public relations officer (PRO) of NAWEC, Pierre Sylva, said his institution will be implementing water borehole projects to alleviate the shortage of water in the Gambia.
The projects that seek to mitigate the water crisis in the country, he added, are funded by the Africa French Development (AFD), World Bank, and OIC respectively.
Sylva made these statements on September 7 in an interview with this paper at his office in Kanifing while responding to concerns of desperate residents of Bundung – who had recently stomped the Bundung Highway with empty buckets, pans, and gallons in an effort to draw President Barrow’s attention to their sufferings on the water crisis that gripped their community.
The event took place when President Barrow headed to Bundung to inaugurate a newly built police station.
On 2 September, the residents of Bundung staged a protest against NAWEC for failing to provide them with adequate water.
Speaking on the subject, Sylva revealed that steps are being taken to mitigate the problem, noting that the Water and Sewage Improvement Project (WSIP), funded by AFD, is going to construct new elevated groundwater tanks to replace the existing facilities with capacities ranging from 500 to 900 m3 (metric cube).
He said another design for a new water tank would be an underground water storage facility, which will store over 900 meters of water.
Due to the inadequate water supply, according to Sylva, NAWCE seeks funding through a supplementary proposal from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, to facilitate necessary improvement works within the chain of distribution for the affected areas with piping, networking, and infrastructure.
“We get this thing together with WASIP inline – we will be able to minimize some of the problems facing our customers,” he said.
With the ongoing water crisis in the Greater Banjul Area, Sylva said NAWEC benefits from a World Bank project worth US $40,000,000 for the provision of 11 boreholes in GBA and the provinces as well. He said these boreholes will also have treatment plants.
Sylva also said NAWEC runs a sub-project funded under the OIC project, meant to improve underwater circulation in the GBA.
“The boreholes have already been dug and now we are waiting to recruit another contractor to have some disbursement, where we can lay the pipes from the boreholes that have been dug and then do our networks,” he explained.
He added: “We will also be engaging the residents of Bundung. We will do everything possible to meet them and put our heads together. As said, NAWEC does not belong to me or you, but instead it is a national company. So, someone in Bundung might have a better idea of how or what we should do to mitigate the problem affecting them and other residents. There must be a solution to the problem.”
Sylva further acknowledges that the water company is also aware that some customers do not have access to water while others wake up late at night or early morning to look for water. He said they had already received the reports on those particular areas, which are going through these nightmares.
According to him, the water and sewage unit of his institution is not relenting in this difficult moment, saying their personnel are going from one place to another to see what should be done to improve water supply.
The water company PRO encourages Gambians to visit or call NAWEC’s emergency lines and make complaints about the problems they are facing in terms of water supply. He said those paying bills without water should come forward to NAWEC and lodge their complaints. He asked landlords to repair the leakages of water pipes in their homes, saying such problems usually cause lack of water and high costs during the billing process.
Sylva, therefore, asked residents to bear with them as the situation was beyond their control.
“The financial input to make sure we get out of the problems that we are facing is huge enough. This is why; we definitely rely on international donors or funding agencies such as OIC, AFD, World Bank, etc., to come to our aid. And as much as the government has that rapport with these agencies, I think we will definitely see what best should be done to ensure that the problem of water is put to rest as soon as possible,” he lamented.
However, Sylva uses the opportunity to call on customers to continue exercising patience since NAWEC already knows the problem and is working tirelessly to improve the situation.