Matthews Ridge water supply system to get $5.5M upgrade

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The Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has signed an agreement with the Matthews Ridge/Arakaka and Port Kaituma Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) to undertake a $5.5 million water supply improvement programme in Mathews Ridge.

GWI’s Managing Director, Dr Richard Van West-Charles addressing the simple ceremony for the $5.5 million upgrade to the Matthews Ridge water supply system

The agreement was signed between Managing Director of GWI, Dr Richard Van West-Charles and Chairperson of the Matthews Bridge Ridge/Arakaka and Port Kaituma NDC, Margaret Lambert at a simple ceremony in the community on Thursday. Witnessing the signing was Region One (Barima-Waini) Chairman, Brentnol Ashley, as well as GWI representatives in the region.

The agreement covers the upgrade to the community’s water system by facilitating the rehabilitation of the water sources (two springs,) and the tapping into a third spring to provide additional water supply. It also covers the remedial works to the community’s water supply reservoirs, and its distribution and transmission network.

Dr Van West-Charles told residents at the ceremony that interventions in the community are in line with the water company’s renewed commitment to ensure that villages across Guyana have access to potable water.

He explained that GWI’s urgency in this effort within the hinterland regions is particularly driven by the opportunity for incidences of waterborne disease, and the risk for contamination to the water supply system.

In addition to initiating a number of efforts to improve access and quality of water in the regions, Dr Van West-Charles explained that the water company is working with regional and local authorities to efficiently and effectively address the issues of leaks in the communities.

He explained that currently, in the sub-region, GWI is working with the Matthews Ridge/Arakaka and Port Kaituma NDC to share the cost of addressing leaks in the area.

The result should see by the end of August, a significant increase in terms of quantity of water supply in the communities, in both the morning and evenings hours, he said.

Also towards addressing quality of access, the GWI Managing Director explained that the water company is working with the region to install a kit at the hospital, where the water supplied by the newly rehabilitated Matthews Ridge water supply system can be monitored for microbes and other quality characteristics on a weekly basis.

During his address, he also stressed the need for partnership to ensure the continued reliability of the water service.

He noted that there needs to be “stakeholders’ ownership” of the interventions that GWI undertakes if the water company is to stay on top of its mission of delivering quality water to all. “We need you to work with us if we are going to investigate in a timely basis leaks that are compromising the system and contaminating the water that the people are receiving,” the Managing Director said.

He also called on the NDC and the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) to help with identifying communities that do not have access to water.  “We do not know the terrain and this is where the regional administration and the NDC can come in and help us because we take the mandate of the President seriously in terms of addressing inequity where they exist with respect to water,” Dr Van West-Charles said.

According to a GINA release, he explained that to facilitate engagements with the residents, GWI will be striving to establish monthly water meetings with the communities to get feedback, “so we do not want to wait if there are issues… but we will be able to put these issues on the table and find solutions to them,” he said.

Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley recalled that a few months after assuming office, he met with Dr Van West-Charles and discussed the water woes, not only in Mabaruma, but those of Matakai and Matthews Ridge. He explained that since this early conversation and several others that followed, Dr Van West-Charles and his team worked assiduously to improve the areas of concern that the region listed to them.

As the GWI continues to address the issues in the region, Ashley gave his RDC’s commitment to continue working with them. “I know that they could continue to give that level of support and partners with the RDC to bring better quality of water to all residents,” he said.

In addition to Mathews Ridge, GWI’s most recent intervention in the region includes works in Hosororo, Oronoque and Yarakita.

The Regional Chairman also assured residents that his only concern is that of bettering the quality of life of all the people living in Region One, irrespective of their ethnicity and their political preference. “… What I am concerned with is making communities better, helping them to develop from strength to strength and I am glad that the (Guyana) Water Incorporated would have fully come on board, in this drive,” Ashley said.

Meanwhile, Chairperson of the Matthews Ridge/Arakaka and Port Kaituma NDC, Margaret Lambert thanked the Government for the intervention that would allow for clean water supply to the homes of the residents in the NDC. “We are thankful and grateful for this water upgrading in this NDC and we are pledging to work with GWI so as to bring even more water intervention to our communities,” Lambert said.

As per the agreement signed, the funds for the water intervention in Mathews Ridge would be provided to the NDC, which would then engage residents to provide the works. As per the agreement, GWI would then provide materials for the works to be undertaken.