PROMINENT Honiara resident Benjamin Afuga is calling for the sacking of Solomon Water Chief Executive Officer Ian Gooden, in the wake of the water cut that affected about 70 per cent of the city in the last few days.
“I am calling on the minister responsible for Solomon Water to immediately summon the CEO and the Solomon Water Board to answer many questions that are now being asked,” Afuga told the Solomon Star.
The water cut occurred after Solomon Water shut down the pump at its Kongulai water source, west of Honiara, last Friday.
Kongulai supplies about 40% of Solomon Water customers in Honiara.
In a statement Gooden issued on Monday, he explained they made the decision to shut down the pump due to the high turbidity (silt and dirt particles in the water) experienced upstream during the week.
Gooden said the underlying cause of high turbidity are the illegal or unmanaged logging activities upstream in the Kongulai catchment water area.
“Solomon Water’s action is necessary to ensure that quality and safe water is distributed to the customers,” Gooden said.
“One of the reasons for the shutdown during wet weather is because Solomon Water does not have a water treatment plant to filter dirt out of the water in heavy rainfalls,” he added.
“Therefore the only option is to shut the system until water is safe for distribution.
“If we kept on producing water the disinfection process cannot kill any bacteria in the water, making it potentially unsafe for drinking.”
He said the water supply was restored Sunday morning, however certain areas are still without water.
“Given the period of shutdown, the water system will need to refill all the storage tanks to ensure supply is fully restored.”
Gooden said estimated time for water to be fully restored was by late Monday evening.
But Afuga said the Solomon Water decision to shut down the pump has bad affected both residences and business houses.
“Despite this disastrous situation, the CEO does not care about the situation that affects majority of the people who are now suffering as a direct result of no water for days,” Afuga said.
Hundreds of Honiara residents have also expressed their frustrations about the water cut on social media.
Afuga said some businesses have to incur extra costs to fetch water or find alternatives to keep their service running.
“The CEO should come out from the comfort of his luxurious Hibiscus Apartment to see for himself how people and businesses are badly affected by this chronic syndrome.
“It seems the CEO loved to talk about his ambitious plans and long term projects but failed to address the immediate needs facing Honiara,” Afuga said.
He further added that it’s high time Solomon Water start thinking about providing alternative ways of supplying water to its customers than talking about plans and projects that will take many years to accomplish.
Afuga also urged the CEO to speed up work on the filtration system must start now because that appears to be one of the practical solutions to Kongulai catchment situation.
He further added that the Chairman of SIWA Board Carson Korowa must be equally held responsible for this disastrous water cut.
“If similar political actions to deal with Solomon Airlines, Solomon Islands Port Authority (SIPA) and Solomon Power CEOs and boards have been done in the past, why not Solomon Water?” Afuga said.
He said we must not forget that water will play a significant role in the upcoming Pacific Games in 2023.
“This means water improvement in Honiara should be a priority considering the SPG 23.
“What will happen to thousands of athletes, officials and sports tourists who will be here for the Games if this situation persists?”
By ANDREW FANASIA