BWA gets Smart
The state water company has taken a major step towards ensuring that consumers pay for the water that they use, or waste.
The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) today launched a three-year US$69.7 million Smart Metre Business Transformation programme, which it said would improve a number of areas relating to the service that it provides.
Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick said among the issues that the project will resolve was that of wastage and incorrect measurement of water usage which has impacted on the authority’s earnings.
“The introduction of this new technology utilizing smart metre approach . . . will help us tremendously to resolve that issue of a large number of dysfunctional metres in the country undermining the revenue capacity of the Barbados Water Authority,” said Dr Estwick in an address at the official launch of the multi-million dollar scheme at the Courtyard by Marriot this afternoon.
“The other element of importance to the institution is the ICT platform upgrades that go along with this particular project. We have always had challenges in regards to providing the sort of customer service relationship when it comes to providing customers services requests, particularly requests for elements of connectivity, areas of burst pipes and discoloured water, et cetera,” Dr Estwick continued.
The project, which was in the making for almost four years and will see the installation of nearly 100,000 household metres and about 4,000 metres to commercial establishments, will be funded by a loan from Citibank.
Canadian-based consulting firm Cowater International Inc will manage the project in association with Sogema Technologies Inc, and supported by the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).
Officials are hoping that on completion of the project, consumers will experience better customer service, as well as faster response time to requests, with invoices that are easier to understand, more accurate and timely.
In outlining the conditions of the loan Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said approval for Government to barrow the finances was given by Parliament in March, following an agreement by Cabinet in November last year for the BWA to enter into the arrangement with CCC and EDC.
The insurance coverage for about 95 per cent of the loan is being provided through the EDC for three years “or otherwise approved by the EDC”, he said.
“The principal will be repaid over nine years in 18 equal installments and consecutive payments commencing six months from the availability period. The interest and commitment fee will be payable semi-annually. The interest rate is six months libor plus a margin of 155 basis points. The EDC premium is estimated to be US$9.3 million and payments are non-refundable,” said Sinckler, adding that the agreement was finalized and signed on June 26, 2015.