Give consumers more time

15/09/2014 16:13

Consumers need more time to make necessary financial arrangements to facilitate connections to sewer lines.

The Consumer Council of Fiji’s plea to the Water Authority of Fiji comes in light of consumer-outcry over the ‘time-frame and the penalty’, put in place by WAF, requiring consumers to connect to the wastewater reticulation system.

Many consumers living in Suva Peninsula and Samabula North have contacted the Council, expressing serious concerns, requesting for an extension of time so they could make necessary financial arrangements to facilitate the connection.

What is more disturbing is that those residential consumers who fail to get connected to the wastewater reticulation system by 1st September 2014, will, according to a WAF Public Notice, be billed for waste water (sewer) charges including penalty fee of $100 for every six months until they are connected to the waste water line while commercial customers will face a penalty fee of $1,000 for every six months until they get connected.

While, the Council strongly believes that sewer system will not only protect our environment from contamination but also protect public from serious health hazard, however, all the Council is requesting for is more time for consumers who don’t have enough cash to get connected.

For some of these consumers based on the location, the whole activity can cost up to $5,000 and realistically-speaking, an average household does not have this much cash at hand. They obviously require more time to arrange for the additional funds.

Those consumers who contacted us have expressed commitment to getting connected to the waste water line; they too understand that it’s mandatory and the need to do so. But all they require is an extension to the time frame with no penalty. Penalty would be an extra financial burden to those who simply don’t have money to get their sewer connected in the first place.

The Council remains optimistic that WAF will act in good-faith to reset a new time frame with no penalty fees for the hundreds of families living in the designated areas where waste water lines are yet to be connected. This will surely come as a big relief to these households.