Fiji Times

SUVA. Fiji (Nov. 13) – Everybody accepts that we have major water problems in Fiji.

The upgrade of our water system has not gone hand-in-hand with the development of suburbs and increase in population in towns and cities.

People accept that past governments did not do enough nor allocate enough money in national budgets to upgrade the water works.

People also accept that the shift in population has created population explosions in the Suva-Nausori area and in the cities and towns of the Western and Northern divisions.

As a result of these two issues, the lack of a consistent supply of clean drinking water has become a problem for people living in those areas.

People accept that as a result of all these factors, there will be water cuts and there will be problems with supply every now and then.

However, what is unacceptable is the manner in which complaints and concerns are treated.

Most people see the press as their last line of defence against departments like the PWD where it is difficult to get a straight answer, let alone get someone to explain why there are interruptions.

It is the PWD's responsibility to ensure that someone is readily available at all times to answer queries and deal with the concerns of members of the public and the media.

It is the PWD's responsibility to ensure that consumers know of a scheduled water cut before it happens.

It is the PWD's responsibility to explain why there will be a water cut. In the case of unexpected interruptions, it is the PWD's duty to explain what the problem is and how soon it will take to get it fixed. It is also the PWD's responsibility to explain when and how often consumers affected by these interruptions will receive water delivered by trucks.

The PWD owes the people that much a quick response and an honest answer. A few years ago, this newspaper gave editorial space to the PWD to explain, defend and talk water on a daily basis.

That open line of communication helped placate a lot of angry water users whose only concern was to know when they would be able to get water.

It is not the PWD's fault that the pipes are old, have not been replaced or that there is very little money and expertise to do all that. The PWD has no control over how much it gets every year.

However, the PWD can help by responding quickly, honestly and efficiently to problems of water supply and leakages.

It can also help by cutting out wastage and working more efficiently.

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