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Current water shortage proof of failure of privatizing social services – Anakbayan

July 22, 2010

According to youth group Anakbayan, the present water shortage which has gripped many parts of Metro Manila is proof of the failure of privatizing water services here and in other parts of the country.

Many parts of the metropolis have been experiencing little or no water supply for days or even weeks now, despite the fact that is now the rainy season and that a typhoon has directly struck Metro Manila recently.

“A decade after privatizing the MWSS, water services in Metro Manila remains inefficient, albeit more expensive.  The promise of privatization is as dead as the dodo bird” said Anakbayan national vice-chairperson.

In 1997, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System awarded its concessions for the western and eastern parts of Metro Manila to Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services, respectively. To offset public outrage over the lay-off of more than 7,000 MWSS employees during that time, proponents of the privatization move promised better and more efficient water services for residents of the National Capital Region.

According to Maynilad and Manila Water, their water distribution systems loss is at 60 and 20 percent, respectively. This means, in the case of Maynilad for example, 60% of the water that goes through their distribution systems at any given time is wasted.

Dulce quoted University of the Philippines professor Giovanni Tapang who said that 500 million liters a day for the Metro Manila area would be saved if both Maynilad and Manila Water would repair its pipelines.

Additionally, the former gets its water supply primarily from the Angat Dam, while the latter gets its water primarily from the La Mesa watershed.

“This is the height of inefficiency. One half of the metropolis is drying up simply because Metro Manila has been divided into the private kingdom of two corporations. This would never have happened if water services here are under one central public authority” said the youth leader.

He said that only the government, with enough public funding, would be able to repair the current highly-inefficient water distribution system without leading to price hikes.

“The de-privatization of the water sector should now become a priority of the Aquino administration. The metropolis is literally drying up and might ignite into revolt if the water crisis is not addressed” he added.

Meanwhile, Dulce warned that the planned privatization of the Angat Hydroelectric Power Plant would lead to more water shortages in the future.

He cited the Water for People Network which said the privatization would affect the access to water of 14 million consumers in Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite. It is also expected to affect the access of 28,000 farmers in Bulacan and Pampanga to irrigation waters.

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