The newly appointed Chief Executive Mr. Lehlohonolo Manamolela participated at a meeting where the Maseru Water Committee was given feedback on the stakeholder conference held in March this year. Mr. Manamolela participated at this meeting three days after his appointment in August and his presence was a clear indication that the leadership of WASCO is determined to work closely with all stakeholders in shaping a new and promising future for the water utility and its customers.
In his key note message to members of the committee, the new CE explained that the natural springs and other sources of fresh waters in Africa as a whole are fast depleting as a result of overuse resulting from increasing agriculture and industry water demands. He said Lesotho is no exception to this problem, as such WASCO as a key player in the use of water resources has a huge role to play in protecting the existing surface and underground water resources. He further urged community leaders to continue collaborating with WASCO in educating Basotho about the importance of joining the fight against pollution and depletion of fresh water and said a big part of this campaign lies with efficient use of water.
He mentioned that despite being new at WASCO it has come to his attention that the company is sluggish in tightening the leash on contractors that are employed to implement various engineering projects. He said it is neither the intention of the Board of Directors nor that of the Executive Management to provide poor service delivery. He assured the gathering as a result he is going to work hard in collaborating with the relevant departments to improve water supply and sewerage services across the country.
One of the development plans disclosed in this meeting was that as a result of improved water production from the Metolong water supply, the company is now in a position to expand water supply services to areas which do not have access to these services. In addition, the company is in the process of making plans to make necessary modifications on the reticulation network and rehabilitate aging infrastructure to improve water supply services to areas that have unreliable supply due to technical obstacles.
In the long day information sharing session, the committee was made aware that implementation of these developments is restricted by budgetary constraints. Another plus, is that following a huge public outcry on the inability of service providers to work together, WASCO reported that working relations with the Maseru City Council (MCC) have improved significantly. In this regard in areas where the MCC is constructing roads WASCO is represented to ensure that the contractors do not destroy the water or sewerage network and in cases where the MCC is developing sites it involves WASCO so that when residents move in, water and sewerage services where possible are readily available. Nevertheless, the meeting recommended that the infrastructural development committee be resuscitated.
Another challenge facing the water utility is the emerging trend to built fencing walls around properties. This is a major cause of non revenue water as most of these walls are built over pipelines and this leads to bursts and leakages on WASCO mains and household distribution lines. When maintenance teams attempt to do repair works they normally meet resistance from home owners who normally claim ignorance on the issues around building permit. The other challenge is that authorities responsible in land allocation continue to do this on high laying areas which are normally higher than reservoirs and as such this increases the number of urban population that is unable to access water supply services. Sewer flooding in some streets of the capital city is another major concern discussed at this meeting. Manager Sewerage, Mr. Letlama Jobo indicated that arround areas like Seputana, the main cause of sewer flooding is that businesses have not connected to sewerage network but working closely with the MCC, they engage in rigorous water disconnection campaigns on a weekly basis to discourage the practice of throwing waste water onto the streets.
The water committee members reaffirmed their commitment to supporting WASCO in disseminating information to the communities which they represent. But they were quick in stating that WASCO should show commitment in its debt collection efforts. A member of this committee, Mrs. Mofonase Sakoane – Hoohlo did not mince words as she indicated that their job in encouraging the residents of Maseru to pay WASCO bills would be easier if WASCO works hard in recovering debts from big businesses and government departments.
The Maseru water committee meeting is part of a series of meetings held for water committee members across all WASCO service centres where they were briefed on the key milestones the company has achieved following the March 2016 stakeholder conference. It is expected that all the issues discussed at these meeting would be tabled before the Executive Management which will develop short, medium and long term plans on the basis of the needs and interests of stakeholders. On the other hand, water committees are expected to disseminate information about WASCO’s development plans and challenges to the communities that affect and are affected by its operations.