Water company demands its money

Sembcorp’s Operations Manager Ricky Buckley and Communications Consultant Paula Lee at the press conference, yesterday. (Photo by Kyle Christian/OBSERVER media)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Another supplier has accused Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) of not paying its bills. This time Sembcorp Antigua Water said the utility company currently falls short in its payments by about US $130,000 monthly.

“In order to be current with its payments APUA will have to pay Sembcorp US $300,000 per month towards the water production and an additional US $70,000 per month towards the interest,” Sembcorp’s Communication Consultant Paula Lee told media yesterday.

Lee said as of January 18, APUA has been paying the water company US $240,000 per month after a court order compelled the statutory corporation to increase its monthly payment. Prior to that the allotment was US $92,000 monthly.

Sembcorp, an international company, acquired the reverse osmosis plant at Crabbs Peninsula three years ago. Its payment troubles with APUA started a year after that.

As of the end of February, APUA owes Sembcorp EC $20.3 million for water provided over the last two years. Lee said the company has upheld its part of the contract to provide the authority with 3.1 million imperial gallons of water per day.

Operations Manager Ricky Buckley said APUA’s failure to remit full amounts is impacting Sembcorp’s operations, which in turn affects its 15 permanent employees.

Lee said APUA is Sembcorp’s only client and that it depends on the utility company entirely for its income.

The spokesperson said Sembcorp produces upwards of 65 per cent of Antigua’s total water supply and that based on their computations it could be as much as 80 per cent. The company does not provide water to Barbuda.

Sembcorp charges APUA about EC $8.00 (US$2.94) per 1,000 imperial gallons of water. According to its website, APUA in turn charges consumers EC $21.00 per month per 1,000 gallons for the first 4,000 gallons.

APUA has had ongoing issues paying its suppliers.

Last October, the Antigua Power Company (APC) began shutting down its electricity generators saying they were owed EC $37 million by APUA.

Efforts by OBSERVER media to reach APUA’s Water Manager Ivan Rodrigues and General Manager Esworth Martin for comment were unsuccessful.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)