Samoa Water Authority’s original sin

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Dear Editor,

The Samoa Water Authority has done one thing right; they published the names of some delinquent account holders not withstanding their social prominence. 

Well done, SWA!  Maybe the Observer could give you a page once a month so you can list all your outstanding accounts complete with name, village and amount due. 

That day’s edition would surely sell out quickly . . . 

There is also another consideration vis-à-vis delinquent accounts.  

Why are billing arrears allowed to go up into the hundreds and even thousands of tala?  I remember the day when electric power meters got removed when billing settlements were three months delinquent.  

Today the EPC has no problem with delinquent accounts because they have switched over to prepaid cash power.  And I remember the day when landline phone lines would also get disconnected when billings were three months in the arrears.  Today, most people now use pre-paid mobile units so most probably delinquent landline accounts are no longer a major problem for Bluesky.

When I see delinquent SWA accounts in the hundreds and even thousands of tala, I feel a bit disgusted with SWA.  Why in the world do they allow delinquent accounts to get that high?  If a consumer can’t find 50 tala to pay a water bill one month, the next month he will need to find 100, twice as difficult to find.  If they cannot find 100 tala, how in the world would they find 300, 500 or even 2,000?  

It is sinful for SWA to allow billings to go unpaid for longer than 3 months, especially for private residences, because the end result of countless months of unpaid billings would most likely result in disconnection over an exorbitant unpaid bill which the family would never be able to pay. 

The end result would be SWA’s loss of a customer and that family never having their own water connection again.  How would that family live without water?  After all, “Water is life.”

After two months of arrears, after the first warning sign appears, SWA might consider giving notice of pending disconnection the following month unless the account is settled by a given date.  

Most families would find a way to settle the arrears quickly if it is a matter of a hundred tala or so, and then they would not need to face the consequences.  In many cases, it is often a case of holding off to the last minute, a Samoan trait.  It’s the same with school fees.  For many parents, it is not until their child is sent home from school for nonpayment of school fees that the fees are quickly settled.  

SWA might also consider following the example of the EPC and install “cash water” meters.  I saw them in Korea.  Then there will no longer be any need for SWA to have a disconnection/reconnection team or a meter reading team.  SWA overhead would drop and they might even be able to reduce the price of water.

 

P.A.B.                                                                                                                                                 Puipa’a 

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