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Saturday, August 23 2014 @ 05:27 AM EDT

Water and Electricity Bill Will Be Merged Into One

Infrastructure UpgradesThe power failure at the junction of the primary circuit for the water treatment plant in Chilibre that left the capital without water service for more than 12 hours, brought to the stage measures that will improve the system being used to collect water service payments.

The Minister of Economy and Finance, Frank De Lima, announced they are analyzing the possibility of incorporating the water bill with the electricity service bill, after contracts are renewed with distributors in October 2013.

De Lima said the intent of the measure is to reduce delinquencies, and for the IDAAN to get paid for the other 50% of the liquid they are producing, which currently is not billed.

Another issue raised by De Lima is a change to the rates being charged for water service "when the service is improved, because you have to admit that right now water is very cheap, and that's why people waste it."

The minister justified the proposal, because in Panama "we use four times as much water per person compared to the average for Latin America."

The issue also arises under Article 92 of the draft Bill that creates the Water and Sanitation Authority, which the government aims to create, which is currently being revised with the participation of civil society groups, workers and politicians.

The statements made by De Lima on TVN news come while the community is demanding the reestablishment of water service, which was interrupted by damage to underground cables that conduct electricity to the water treatment plant.

This was the second case in less than eight days, which left the capital of Panama City without water supply, and the director of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), Abdiel Cano, described the damage as "accidental".

Although the cable was repaired on Tuesday evening, as of late yesterday afternoon there were still parts of the city at higher elevations where water service had not yet been restored. "At six in the morning today (yesterday) we restarted pumping 230 million gallons of water and eight pumps, the supply will be restored gradually as the pipelines become full," he said.

The problem prompted the Ministry of Education to suspend classes in both public and private schools. The measure was also adopted at the universities of Panama and Technology, although these academic activities resumed in the afternoon session.

Julia Suira, who has been on the IDAAN Board for eight years as the representative of the National Council of Organized Workers (Conato), was the first to reject the proposal of the Minister of Economy, noting that "while there is a poor service, they cannot impose higher fees on the users." "At this point people still have to go to the agencies to get their water bills, because if they don't they are subject to a penalty. In other cases, the water service does not even reach their homes," she said.

The former director of IDAAN Juan Ducreux coincided with the approach of Suira, but stressed the need to revise the current rate for investment and to ensure the sustainability of the institution.

Millionaire Investment in plant - Adriano Espino, Chief of the Contracts Division of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) which is responsible Chilibre plant, said that since December 2010, when occurred the phenomenon of "La Purisima", they have invested more than 12 million dollars to improve the laboratories, roofs, ceilings, motor control center, new pumps, filters, dispensers and settlers.

"For safety we have also installed 64 surveillance cameras placed along the ground," he said. He said they will be investing an additional 5 million dollars in equipment to strengthen the operation of the plant, which has been in the hands of the ACP since 22 November 2011. On replacing cables that caused the shutdown of the plant, he said they will replace 500 feet of cable.

José Amado III, a former Director of the IDAAN, said "Those situations come as a result of the normal operation of the plant and make evident the deterioration of equipment." (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The IDAAN has never been very good at getting paid. Over the years there have been various efforts to improve collection, and to make people pay what they owe. However when the IDAAN technicians show up to remove the water meter and shut off the water, residents just hire some dude with a hacksaw and some PVC pipe to get the water running again. Now they will incorporate all service bills into one. So, if you don't pay your water bill, the electricity gets turned off. As has been reported, the IDAAN does not get paid for about half of the water they produce. And, they can't fix the long term infrastructure deficiencies without the money needed to get it done. So, if they fix the money problem, then they can fix the distribution network.

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Water and Electricity Bill Will Be Merged Into One | 1 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Water and Electricity Bill Will Be Merged Into One
Authored by: D.T. on Thursday, September 20 2012 @ 04:37 PM EDT

Same situation is in all third world countries. It is mainly a question of education and honesty of the people. It can easily be corrected by application of laws as long the politicians do not interfere with the justice and as long the justice is not protecting certain groups of payers default for political reasons. In one word “CORRUPTION”.
Water is recognized as a BASIC needs for human life because without people cannot live without drinking water.
Turkey cut off water city supply to the non payers BUT has a free water fountain next to the police station in each community. You do not want to pay for city water at home, go to the fountain and fill your gallon for drinking or whatever.
Santo Domingo had the same problem of people not paying their water bill. They tied the water bill to the electricity bill. You do not pay your bills; your electricity connection is cut off but not your water connection being protected by “basic human rights”. Well, the people illegally connected their houses by throwing copper cables over the aerial electric city cables. Resulting in mass “shorts” every days and total loss of electricity for the entire community. I have lived nine months in Santo Domingo and had to by my own diesel generator; it was automatically starting two or three time a day.
The only solution for Panama is to EDUCATE the people by PUNISHING the non payers with hefty fines, confiscations of properties or jail time.
That will teach the people the values of water and electricity.
I am now paying $6.32/month for 11cu/m of water per month (used to be $5.15/month) for the same amount of water consumed. I guess this price is based on a maximum of 30cu/m per month. Note: I am living in my apartment in Panama City and have used the same amount of water since 7 years. (+/- 1 cu/month). Of course if one of my toilets is leaking… I FIXE IT.
The only way is for Panamanian to learn to be responsible.
If I may, I would like to say that not many car drivers of Panama are familiar with the meanings of road rules. Very few of them respect the “non parking zones” and the police are blind or maybe they do not know the rules.
Here are the most common infractions:
Parking along yellow painted lines on side-walks.
Parking on sidewalks forcing the pedestrians to walk in the street between speeding cars.
Parking on corners of streets.
Understanding the rule of “turning right on a red light” that means IF NO INCOMING TRAFIC.
Understanding that a ONE WAY STREET is ONE WAY with or without traffic on that street.
NOW THE BIG ONE: They do not know the meaning of PEDESTRIAN CROSSING LINES. Those painted white lines are internationally made for the pedestrian to cross a street, a parking lot for safe crossing. Any car MUST give free passage to the pedestrian except in Panama.
Last Sunday morning I park my car on the parking of Price Mart via Brazil. I had to cross two lines of parking rows and twice I was almost run over by drivers who did not even slow down but forced me to jump back out of their way using their horns as scaring tactics.
A parking lot officer was witness and I ask him about the meanings of those white lines for pedestrians. He said “The white lines are for cars driving in parking lot”! He never heard of the protection of pedestrians so I told him. Again he said he never heard of pedestrian protection on roads because roads are made for cars and not pedestrians!!!!

I would like DON to include in his blog some of the Living in Panama problems and not only to report the daily Third World politics and short comings of Panama. Don is well known in Panama, locals, politicians and we not from Panama.
I am confident that the politicians in Panama will listen to him and let’s hope that all the TV stations and press will join him in civilizing the people of Panama.