Friday, 08 March 2024 17:18


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The Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) will meet with officials of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) to discuss its water rate dispute with bulk water supplier Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. (COBI).
Acting LWUA chief Eileen dela Vega said this during a video conference call with the 20th City Council’s ad hoc committee Thursday morning.
The ad hoc committee or committee of the whole was investigating the water rate dispute in light of the fourth disconnection notice issued by COBI to COWD late last month.
On Wednesday afternoon’s press briefing, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy emphasized anew to local media that while he isn’t against water rate hikes, it should be justified.
Mayor Klarex said he opposed the imposition of water rate increases due to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘The public should also be satisfied with the service provided by the (water service provider). Whether it’s a small or substantial increase if the public isn’t serviced well, the people will complain. I won’t oppose any rate hike if the public is satisfied with their service,’ Mayor Klarex said in Visayan.
A task force was set up by Mayor Klarex to address the problem. During the ad hoc committee meeting, dela Vega clarified to the council that it was the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and not their office that oversaw contract negotiations between COWD and COBI.
‘We were not part of the negotiations. Our role now is to (address) the impact of the water rate hike on consumers, which we regulate,’ she said.
Dela Vega said under the joint venture (JV) guidelines of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) which COWD and COBI followed, their office is not required to approve the contract. ‘It was the OGCC that approves the contract under the JV guidelines which they followed…what we approve are the water rates charged to the consumers,’ she said.
Under the contract signed between COWD and COBI in 2017, COBI will impose an incremental rate increase of over P3 for every three years.
But COWD general manager Engr. Antonio Young said their board disapproved the increase owing to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. COWD charges P16.60 per cubic meter daily to its consumers while COBI bills COWD P20.57 cubic meter of water daily or a difference of P3.97.
COBI is a joint venture between majority owner Metro Pacific Inc. Investments Corp. and COWD which holds a five percent stake in COBI. (Stephen Capillas of City Information Office)