Fiji Times

SUVA. Fiji (June 6) – It seems that now is a good time to be a water truck owner.

For, according to Minister for Public Utilities and Infrastructure Robin irwin, more than half a million dollars was spent carting emergency water supply in just over three months for the greater capital city area.

That amount was spent in material costs, wages and vehicle hire for emergency water for Cunningham, Tacirua, Namadi Heights, Tuirara Subdivision, Makoi, Delainavesi, Lami and Veisari.

That is certainly a conservative estimate of the cost of ageing pipes, pumps and waterworks.

For it does not take into account the cost to all the households that miss out on emergency water because they are not able to meet the water trucks on time to fill buckets and containers most often because of the irregular hours the trucks keep.

There has been a lot of finger-pointing over the water supply situation, most often aimed at previous governments.

Certainly, there is some element of truth to the fact that our pipes and pumps have not received the kind of attention they need.

But looking for a scapegoat is not the way to go.

Consumers are looking for answers and results not someone to vent their frustrations out on.

All Mr Irwin has to do is ask anyone in affected areas if they would prefer to have someone to blame or taps that run with full pressure whenever they are turned on.

The answer would most often be taps with full pressure at any time.

Perhaps the Government ought to look into the idea of having a water summit, where it can get together all the great engineering and administrative minds at its disposal and thrash the issue out once and for all.

The Asian Development Bank and other bodies would certainly support the need for a comprehensive look at meeting future and current demand.

Once the infrastructure needs are sorted, the Ministry of Finance would then need to look at ways of sourcing funds to ensure that the necessary work can be carried out.

The problems faced in the greater capital city area are only an indication of the types of problems that can and do come up around the country.

This nation cannot afford to keep pushing its water treatment plants at levels way above their operating capacity.

Just like the recent moves in electricity generation, we need some constructive planning for the future to ensure that our water works

June 6, 2006

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