BACOLOD CITY – The Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa) has entered into a 25-year joint venture agreement with the Villar-owned PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp.
Chairman of Baciwa’s Board of Directors, lawyer Lorendo Dilag, and PrimeWater vice president Romeo Sabater announced the signing of the deal in a press conference held at the O Hotel here Friday afternoon.
“I just would like to inform the people of Bacolod that the Board of Directors signed this morning the contract with Prime Water. We worked for three years for its approval. The primary reason why we worked for it is because the Board of Directors sincerely believes in the project. We were one in this,” Dilag said.
The partnership, which will bring in PHP6.3 billion in total investments from the Manila-based utility firm in the next 25 years, is expected to formally start on November 1, following a three-month transition period.
He said signing an agreement with PrimeWater is “practical, necessary, and beneficial” for Bacolod because Baciwa has no financial capacity to fund an expansion project that would answer the need for more water supply.
“On that score, we feel that we need a partner. We did not choose PrimeWater. (It) was able to qualify itself after two other stakeholders were disqualified. PrimeWater became the winner in its own right and in its own strength,” Dilag said.
He noted that in the first five years, PrimeWater would pour in PHP1.6 billion for pipe laying and after that, it would invest PHP2 billion more for the installation of wells, delivery of more water supply, and employees’ compensation.
After 25 years, the assets put in place during the partnership will be turned over to Baciwa free of charge, Dilag added.
Sabater, who came with corporate counsel Gilbert Galvez, said once PrimeWater receives the notice to proceed, the project would begin on November 1, wherein they would already be in charge of the daily operation of Baciwa’s water supply system.
This means the water source, operation, maintenance, distribution, customer service, payment, and collection will be handled by PrimeWater, he added.
“What we can do from today to November first is to make sure that all plans we have identified together with the Baciwa representatives would be validated and confirmed. The moment that the team will start the day-to-day operations in Baciwa, we have definite programs to address the current water situation in the city,” Sabater said.
Responding to questions on water tariff rates, he said they would be “candid about it.”
“There will be tariff increases over the term of the joint venture. Not on November 1, but definitely there will be an increase along the way,” Sabater said.
Engineer Jenelyn Yap-Gemora, assistant general manager for operations, said Baciwa caters to only 48 percent of the total population of Bacolod.
“The ultimate goal of the joint venture is to provide 24/7 water services, if not to 100 percent, but at least 90 percent of the population,” Gemora added. (PNA)
Credit belongs to : www.pna.gov.ph