…business persons involved in illegal connections – GWI HeadAs US$14 billion of potable water is wasted worldwide, Managing Director of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Dr Richard Van West-Charles has said that the authority will be working to curb Guyana’s addition to this figure by increasing the amount of metered customers and reducing illegal connections.Speaking at his end-of-year press conference at GWI’s Headquarters in Vlissengen Road, Georgetown, Van West-Charles revealed on Monday that certain business owners and affluent persons are also involved in illegal water connections.“This we have found straddled the socio-economic strata of this country and many people who really can afford were also sometimes found having illegal connections and going forward in 2019, we’re not going to waste any time in taking the necessary steps to address it,” he noted.Van West-Charles would not identify the defaulters or their locations by name when probed by the media but rather, he focused on the authority’s plans for reducing water wastage and revenue losses from this year. He noted that some 15,000 additional meters will be procured through an Islamic Development Bank loan to ensure more customers are monitored. This is in addition to 15,000 meters that were already obtained under a loan with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).He revealed that Georgetown in its entirety will be covered as a matter of priority, which will increase the number of metered consumers across the country. Metered connections across the country stands at 52 per cent. It was explained that this is the first time that metered customers outnumber the unmetered section of society.Smart metersAccording to officials, the increase in the contingent of meters comes as many unmetered consumers are using water indiscriminately by not turning off taps and leaving water tanks to overflow at nights.The body will be using more smart meters to improve its data recording. These are Automated Meter Reading (AMR) systems which will be installed in 2019. Van West-Charles observed that meter readers will soon be going around with tablets to input the readings which are geared at reducing errors on the billing system.These errors have proved to be quite challenging for GWI. In fact, it was disclosed that there was an ‘inflexible and inefficient customer information and billing system. More than that, access to customers’ premises to read meters was an issue. Other problems included untimely payment of bills where in some cases; it was found that 40 per cent of customers waited 90 days to pay their bills which affected efficiency.Vandalism, geographic access to potable water, unreliable power supply, poor quality of materials available and procurement constraints were some of the issues observed last year. Despite losses in 2018, GWI was able to secure over $4 billion in revenue for 2018 which was a 10 per cent increase from 2017. Van West-Charles encouraged the public to continue reporting leakages as GWI seeks to improve its efficiency.