Mayor Beng Climaco and Vice Mayor Rommel Agan met with the private sector leaders Wednesday afternoon and discussed measures on how to help the local water utility solve the current water shortage problem in the city without increasing the water rates.
Center of the discussion was the proposed water rates increase and the shortage of water supply. However, details of the discussion have been put on hold, pending consultation with management officials of the Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD).
Climaco stressed though that her stand remains “No to water rates increase,” not this time yet as she could see other means to by which the ZCWD can solve its problems on meeting the increasing demand for water.
She said the private sector leaders have identified issues and concerns that the ZCWD management needs to explain in full details during a meeting relative to the agency’s proposed water rates increase.
Present in the meeting with the mayor and vice mayor were Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) President Fr. Karel San Juan, businessmen Pocholo Soliven and James Macasiar, Atty. Karl Rubio, City Administrator Apple Go, City Planning Officer Engr. Rodrigo Sicat, Mayor’s Chief Executive Asst. Michael Saavedra and others.
Climaco late last month bared her intention to formally ask the ZCWD to forgo its proposed water rates increase.
“We have to look into the books of the ZCWD and utilize existing funds from loans. Before we increase the rates, we have to provide better service to them, it’s just as simple as that, by looking at an area where to improve,” Climaco has said.
She also shared the idea of digitalizing the ZCWD to solve the problem of non-revenue water due to leakages, citing for example the command center of the city government that allows the police to prevent a crime incident without necessarily posting a policeman at the crime scene.
“Utilizing digital technology will help us curve the system’s loss without necessarily increasing the cost of water,” the chief executive stressed.
In response to the mayor’s statement, Engr. Marli P. Acosta-De Fiesta, head of the ZCWD Engineering and Construction Department, said in one of the press briefings recently that they respect the mayor’s stand on the issue, adding that the ZCWD management would want scheduling another meeting with the mayor to clear matters up pertaining to the suggested rates increase. “We see the opposition as an opportunity to further explain to the public the necessity for (water) rates adjustment,” she said.-(Vic Larato)