Liberia’s Finance Minister Hon. Amara Konneh has highlighted that the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation has started to prove its ability to deliver on promises while at the same time accounting for funds provided by the government for capital investment projects aimed at delivering what he referred to as a “basic human rights.”
Minister Konneh made the assertions at the recently held Presidential State Owned Enterprise (SOE) retreat, where he referred to the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) as a “stellar SOE performer.”
Minister Konneh noted that LWSC was the one SOE which had significantly raised its asset evaluation, dropped its dependency on government resources by 57 percent, increased its revenue by 150 percent, while significantly making its presence felt.
The accolades and praises for the corporation, which was once considered as one of Liberia’s poorest performing SOEs comes after more than a decade of weak performance and deliverables from LWSC.
Barely two years ago, LWSC’s abilities only allowed it to supply a limited amount of water on a rationed basis to certain parts of Monrovia for a limited number of hours per day. With much efforts and hurdles to cross, the corporation has increased its production capacity, assures a constant supply of water and ensures that a vast and expanding population of the capital has access to its services.
With the confidence that has been built, the Liberian government is planning to invest over US$10 million in the water sector for improved and extended services in 2015 alone while an existing grant from the African Development Bank (AFdB), World Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) valued at another US 60 million dollars will further increase water supply not only into Monrovia but to a total of 8 counties by 2016.
Managing Director Hon. Charles Allen who took over the helm of the corporation two years ago and has been at the forefront of LWSC’s major overhaul process notes that the corporation has come a long way since major reforms begun but underscored that there were still a lot to be done.
He observed, that despite the praises being rained on LWSC, there was still an awareness in the corporation that there were still major challenges to be overcome and grave risks that needed to be mitigated. “We are happy that our progress is being recognized, but at the same time we are wary of being the white chicken that was praised and immediately fell into the red oil,” said Allen “this is why even as confidence builds in the general public, we are doing whatever it takes to do more and also ensure that we can prevent the small mishaps that may erode public confidence in our ability to deliver.”
LWSC’s Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Kimmie Weeks admitted that the Board under his leadership had set hard and challenging goals and targets for the corporation, but highlighted that the goals were all doable and in the interest of the Liberian people.
Said weeks: “I’ve come to LWSC not from a technical background, but from a humanitarian background, with a general knowledge of the needs of the Liberian people. I’ve also balanced that off with being cognizant that LWSC needs to generate revenue, while it would be great to see everybody getting water for free, I know that this is a fiscal impossibility so we are balancing between ensuring that we can provide this basic social service at the lowest cost while at the same time ensuring that the corporation becomes financially self-sustainable.”
Over the next several months and with support from central government and international partners, the corporation will deliver water to central Monrovia, the housing estates off Somalia Drive, as well as extend water supply lines to the RIA highway and to unserved populations in major suburbs such as Paynesville.
The corporation says it is already on target to deliver water to five county capitals with and additional three being developed for execution. Chairman Weeks says that ultimately the goal of the corporation is not only to deliver on its statutory mandate, but to also begin to contribute to the national budget.
Dr. Weeks said: “while we have a mandate to deliver water to the people of Liberia, we also recognize that we also are a revenue generating arm of government and one of our ultimate goals is to become a major contributor to the national budget. We see being this a possibility in the not too distant future.”