May 17, 2012, 2:04 PM
Reports reaching this paper have indicated that residents of Basse and its satellite villages are now paying for water fetched from public standpipes for consumption.
According to our reporter, who just returned from Basse, residents are paying D1 per gallon of 20 litres.
This, according to reports, was due to the fact that the Basse Area Council owed NAWEC a total of D12 million in debts as a result of accumulated arrears from non-payment of outstanding water bills.
When contacted by our reporter, Omar Ceesay chairman of Basse Area Council confirmed the reports as true.
Mr. Ceesay further revealed that there exists an agreement between the council and the respective village development committees under which every public tap would have an individual responsible for collecting payments for the water.
According to him, residents of Basse and its environs were responsible for consuming the amount of water and running up the huge sum of debt owed to NAWEC.
"In order to reduce this, have sustainable development and retain the taps, we decided to hand over the ownership of the taps to the communities," Mr Ceesay pointed out.
When contacted, Manlafi Sanyang, a member of the local committee, disclosed that the idea was initiated three months ago when Basse Area Council called the community to inform them that they (the council) are owing NAWEC a huge amount of money, prompting them to hand over the taps to them.
"It was as a result of this that we decided to select a person to be responsible for the collection of money from people so that at the end of each month, the person can go and pay the bill and the remaining money be saved for any emergency," Mr Sanyang said.
However, some residents have described the council's move as "very strange", stressing that it would affect them in their daily lives.
"We can't go without water and the money that we use on water can be used on other things," said a resident.
Meanwhile, in a related development, Mr. Ceesay chairman of Basse Area Council informed our reporter that the Basse Area Council had budgeted D5m for the extension of the water supply network to Koba Kunda, commencing in February this year.