Fighting Corruption in the Water Sector

By Mustapha Sesay..mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com

IMG-20151026-WA0008Most people are of the notion that water is a free gift in the country and one should not pay a cent to afford it whilst the Government holds the notion that to maintain water service delivery sustainability, the masses must be in a position to pay water rates and other charges so as to pay workers, secure more machines, and also to repair and construct more water resources.
This area of conflict is posing adverse effects on the operations of the Water Resource Ministry in ensuring that the people, especially the poor that are in deprived communities, are accorded pure and affordable drinking.
As a result of this gap between the rich and the poor in accessing water, there is a lot of social, economic and environmental impacts on water resource management.
As the struggle between the rich who can opt for all means to secure water at all times, and the struggling poor, some business water companies and some officials are having a field day in embarking on corrupt practices that is affecting the water service delivery system in various parts of the country.
It is a common practice for the youths to either divert the flow of water from the main resources to the households by illegally using rubber pipes and charging inhabitants or the less privileged to pay money that go into their pockets while those paying their bills go without the service for some time. This situation has degenerated to a point that in broad daylight along the major streets of the city people are visible with cans or buckets in their hands destroying the pipes to scoop water. The unfortunate aspect of this situation is that most of these pipes are located in drainages that are very filthy or with poor sewage facilities, thereby polluting of the drinking water or serving as breading grounds for the transmission of water born diseases.
This issue can be addressed if effective monitoring mechanism is instituted to protect the structures for effective water service delivery and educate the people on the dangers involved.
Another disheartening corrupt activity in the water sector is the act of private water companies not going through the correct processes involved before selling their products to the masses. For a water company to be accorded the right to operate in a state, it must be registered, samples of the product tested and later the structures evaluated. Today with the desire to exploit the masses, some of these private water companies after registration waste no time and start the processing and selling of untested water to the public.
Barely a week ago the Management of Family Care Water implicated the Management of Sierra Spring Water for using their brand.
According to report, the Management of Sierra Spring Company located at 27 Gordin Street, Aberdeen is currently being investigated by the Aberdeen Police Division on allegations ranging from forging and using Family Care Water Company brand to packet and sell water to the public.
This issue came to light when the Head office of Family Care was stormed by the Sierra Leone Police, the Media and some customers on the grounds that some of the water plastics sold to the public contained a lot of particles that will affect the human system.
With this dismal situation, a team from the Family Care Water Company contacted Roxy Building to inquire if there is any other organization or company in the country that had registered with that name.
As there was none, the search team mounted an investigation and on Thursday, they were able to locate a hideout at 27 Gordon Street operated by one Mr. Mohamed Turay.
In the said building, it was realized that Sierra Spring Water Company had a lot of packet Family Care Water bundles that were to be sold to the public.
The office of Standards Bureau was alerted on the issue of Sierra Spring Water Company using their brand to sell packet water to the public. Inspector Martin attached to the Water Industry of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau visited the scene and placed the company under lock and key with the message that the Manager of Sierra Spring Water Company must report on Monday 20th October, 2015 to help in the investigations.
The Management is to explain how they acquired the brand of Family Care Water plastic, the process of registration to establish a water company and other relevant documents.
Visiting the scene of crime on Saturday, a key stakeholder (name withheld) disclosed that indeed he has been operating the place before, but due to hard times he stopped business and decided to rent the place to Sierra Spring Company. In a situation where they are being implicated in using the brand of Family Care, that is not an issue for him to comment on.
Speaking to the Public Relations Office of Standards Bureau Mr. Abu B. Bah on the said issue, it was revealed that when the matter was brought to their attention, Inspector Elvis Mohamed Koroma was dispatched to the crime scene and the following findings were made; the Management of Sierra Spring headed by one Mohamed Turay was using the plastic roll (sachet) of Family Care Water Company to packet.
It was realized that the packet water sold by Sierra Spring was not tested at the Standards Bureau so the officer was left with no option but to seal the door with the serial code 000995/000971.
Already samples have been collected for analysis and this will lead to police investigation and charging of the matter to court. All efforts made to get the side of the Manager of Sierra Spring Water Company.
This problem can be addressed if Standard Bureau embarks on massive on the spot check of these water companies to ensure that they comply with the laid down procedures at all times and defaulters fined or have their licenses sized.
In the area of awarding contract for the establishment of bore holes or standing pipes in many places, during the dry season, most of these facilities are non functional on the grounds that the contractors failed to actually reached the water level.
In a situation where this happens especially in the provincial areas, most of the pipes are either sold to scrap metal business people or criminals have a field day with these equipment.
If such a situation is to be addressed, credible contractors that have vast ideas in drilling for water must be awarded the right to undertake such a venture.

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