MIWD IN CRISIS
What's bugging the MIWD which forced Lwua to takeover its operations?
Two GMs head water firm
By Francis Allan L. Angelo
AFTER the looming power crisis in Iloilo, it’s now the turn of the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) to hog the limelight as management problems has forced the Local Water Utilities Administration (Lwua) to partially takeover its operations.
The takeover has also given MIWD the dubious reputation of having two general managers serving at the same time.
Since October 11, interim general manager Engr. Edwin Reyes took over sensitive operations of the MIWD from Engr. Le Jayme Jalbuena after Lwua administrator Lorenzo Jamora ordered the takeover.
Reyes is the management adviser of Lwua and also served as interim manager in several areas in Tarlac, Vigan, Palawan, Ilocos Sur and other water districts in Luzon.
Reyes said the takeover stemmed from the negative 20 percent slippage in the P207million Small Towns Water Supply Structure Project (STWSSP).
Covering the towns of Oton, Sta. Barbara, Maasin, Cabatuan, San Miguel, Pavia and Iloilo City, the STWSSP aims to upgrade water supply systems in MIWD areas of operations.
The Asian Development Bank granted a loan for the said project which is set to be completed next year.
The Guardian secured a copy of a Lwua report which outlined the problems of the rehabilitation project.
The report said MIWD systems losses remain high due to old pipes, illegal connections and low revenues. It also cited the slow increase in additional household connections as another problem besetting the MIWD management.
MIWD records showed only 22,000 households out of more than 300,000-population in Iloilo City have service connections with the said water utility firm due to expensive charges and dragging flow of paperworks.
The MIWD is also having problems with its potable water source due to private wells existing within its area of concession.
The problems caught the attention of the MIWD board of directors which in turn reported the matter to the Lwua, thus the takeover.
Although Jalbuena is still the general manager, Reyes has assumed sensitive functions like entering and signing contracts and other vital transactions of the MIWD.
“The interim management will be here from three to five months only after we have settled the problems. This is a usual process every time we see problems in water districts under the Lwua’s jurisdictions. We are focusing on Iloilo because this one of the biggest water districts in the country. Operations will go on as usual and we see no water crisis in future here in Iloilo,” Reyes said.
However, Reyes declined to comment on allegations of corruption at the MIWD which has resulted to the delay of the rehabilitation project and the takeover. “It is up to the local board to tackle such problems.”
To solve the problem in the STWSSP, Reyes said they will bid out the project to the private sector to fast track its completion.
Reyes said they plan to hold the bidding on January 6, 2006 to complete the project within eight months.
The interim MIWD manager said they will make affordable their connection rates while reducing bureaucracy to increase their consumer base. (Published in The Guardian-Western Visayas, November 9, 2005 issue)