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Guma Valley concludes two-day retreat

By Mohamed Konneh

Officials at the retreat

The Guma Valley Water Company on Saturday 26th February, 2022, concluded a two-day retreat at the Guma main dam, Regent outside the capital Freetown. The theme for this year’s retreat was “Creating a sustainable Water Supply Service in the Western Area”.

 Giving the purpose of the retreat, Chairman Board of Directors, Mrs. Bintu Myers said the retreat was a milestone in the history of the Guma Water Company.

“We are here today to look at our weaknesses, challenges, successes and opportunities as we all know the mandate of the board is to provide oversight. Most of our staff do not understand the role of the board leading to negative comments by staff and the more reason why staff must be conversant with the company’s act,” she said.

She said the retreat was a new phenomenon in Guma and that the board mandate is in line with the New Direction Manifesto of President Julius Maada Bio’s leg government.

“The mandate of the board is to oversee the accessibility, safety, and affordability of water for the entire Western Area. The board is also entrusted with the responsibility to prove strategic direction of the company and its corporate governance,” she said.  

The Board Chairman noted that people who don’t have taps in their homes resort to cutting pipes that run into the homes of other residents to access water.

Others, she said divert the pipes to their own homes, while noting that Guma was looking seriously to mend the situation by changing from blue rubber (PVC forms) pipes to ductile iron pipes. 

She said the poor water supply service in Freetown has changed drastically despite the huge challenge of population growth in the city.

Declaring  the retreat open, Minister of Water Resources, Ing. Philip Lansana said government continues to improve water supply across the country with Guma Valley accelerating its effort in providing water for the capital Freetown and its environs.

The Minister said there were still many challenges in providing water for the city, noting that rampant cutting of pipes continues and people building on top of the transmission pipelines.

“We still have massive deforestation on the water catchment areas and the more reason why need concerted effort to deal with this situation. This is a big challenge but together with the management we are working towards that ends,” the minister said.

The minister noted that poorly supervised construction has also contributed to the problem as residents have indiscriminately cut down connections, which has left many homes without water supply, but that efforts continue in fixing the city’s water supply issue

Speaking earlier, the Managing Director of Guma Valley Water Company, Maada Kpenge said the mandate of Guma is to provide for the sustainable supply of water for public and private purposes, noting that Cluster 3 of the Medium Term National Development Plan cluster states the percentage of population with access to safe drinking water should increase from 59.6 percent to 80 percent by 2023.

He said Guma’s  strategic objective is to increase access to water supply, improve revenue collection and improve customer satisfaction.

“The Guma Dam currently provides 99 percent of the total volume of water available to Freetown. Daily volume of water supply is 70MLD while technical losses stand at 40 percent or 28MLD.”

The Managing Director said so much has been achieved including improved customer satisfaction, increased in access to the service, chemical for water treatment, more customer complaints handled, coupled with reduction in technical losses.

Mr. Kpenge noted that in 2020 the Freetown Master plan a priority investment studies submitted by engineering consultants, IMC Worldwide were looked at while noting that the aim of the retreat was to look back, assess progress and challenges.

He said the retreat was also for staff to better concentrate on the task at hand, adding that management wanted to leave a legacy behind that including a model service delivery institution with happy customers and motivated staff.

Mr. Kpenge said the two-day engagement undertaken will look at various projects including the Freetown WASH and Aquatic Environment Revamping project aimed at improving water supply access in the Western Area.

Mr. Kpenge however, expresses concern over the low rainfall last year among challenges, adding that if the company is unable to capture more rains then there will be challenges in supplying the amount of water needed for the city. 

The two-day retreat witnesses Guma staff engaging on very serious matters with series of presentations and reviews. Staff were also divided into groups and tasked with reviewing Designs and Documents relating to transmission pipelines; raw water sources and water treatment; service reservoirs and booster stations; public standpipes and metering; and procurement processes. The retreat ended with an energized work force ready to go back and provide services required of them.

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