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NAWASA commissions new headquarters building

Governor-General Dame Cecile La Grenade and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell at the unveiling of the dedication stone for NAWASA's new corporate headquarters

Weeks after welcoming its first customer, the state-controlled National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) has officially commissioned its new corporate headquarters in St. George on Tuesday, with the unveiling of a dedication plaque by the Governor-General, Dame Cecile La Grenade.

It was a rainy Tuesday evening but that did not hamper the celebrations which marked the turning of a new chapter in the history of NAWASA, formerly called the Central Water Commission (CWC).

NAWASA, which is one of several statutory bodies, owned by the Government of Grenada, has relocated from the over 150-year-old building on the Carenage, St. George’s where it operated from over the last 30 years to its newly-built 3-story building on Lucas Street.

According to the General Manager of NAWASA, Christopher Husbands, the former headquarters building posed many challenges for staff, and customers “especially given the density of operations we had at that location.”

Although the exact age of the building on The Carenage is unknown, Husbands cited an old postage stamp carrying a picture of it dated “1862,” which indicates to some extent the age of the building.

NAWASA’s new 30, 000 square feet facility will house the administrative, and management offices on the second and third floor, and cashiers’ counters and customer service on the ground floor, vault offices, conference room, toilets, and elevator, as well as, external works including retaining walls as well as paving, parking, and utilities.

The government provided the land and an EC$7.3 million dollar contract was awarded to Quinn Company Ltd., to construct the facility in November 2019.

According to Husbands, the project, which was expected to be completed 10 months later, faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was completed in 14 months.

“…We must recognise the vision and input of all who have played a role in guiding and developing the island’s water sector to date. To our previous boards, General Managers, Management, and staff, employees in general, we say thank you for all you have done during your time of service,” he told the ceremony.

Although it was a day to celebrate Husbands, who is NAWASA’s longest serving General Manager noted that while “we have come a long way” from where the organisation was 30 years ago, “we must also recognise we have quite a long way to go to get to the level of service the nation requires.”

Pointing to the increasing demand for good, quality water and consistent water supply, Husbands spoke of several measures in the pipeline to address the issue of limited water supply to meet the needs of the growing population.

Speaking to the increase in water demand, Husbands recalled that when the organisation was formed approximately 30 years ago, people were happy just to have access to a pipe, which he noted, was “at that time uncommon in many parts of the island”.

“The average customer 30 years ago was in a large part just happy to get water in the pipe…especially during the dry season where persons would go weeks sometimes without a supply, and even those who had a supply, many times would have had to journey to a community standpipe to line up sometimes for hours in the night to get water.

“Today our customers have grown to expect water, with significantly shorter interruption periods and are now rightly expecting a consistent supply of good, quality water, and we have to meet that challenge.

“We have well developed plans in different stages of implementation to address our current limitations. Most notable of which is the EC$125m Green Climate Fund for the sector – the largest single investment in the water sector to date.

“…I am firm that when completed the project and the other projects currently under implementation will result in a water supply system never seen before in our tri-island state.

Recognising the “timely servicing” of their monthly bills by the government, and consumers to NAWASA’s continued development, Husbands emphasised that it is “this financing (that) provides the opportunity for us to undertake annual capital programmes such as pipe line replacement, and new treatment plants throughout the island.”

“Without providing the opportunity for us to make the continued investment in the water sector, we just cannot achieve the level of service required. We can’t make magic,” he said.

“If we don’t deliver a proper service, if we don’t charge, collect (and) reinvest, we cannot develop the water sector the way we all want it to be,” he added

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who also addressed the gathering, added his voice to the plight of NAWASA’s General Manager and used the opportunity to remind the gathering that as they benefit from NAWASA’s efforts to improve the quality of service provided to them, they too have an “obligation as consumers to honour your responsibility to the company through the timely payment of bills.”

“It is through revenue generated by the service that the company can continue to adequately serve you. It is therefore important for members of the public to help the company derive fair measures of success from its operations,” PM Mitchell said.

Tuesday evening’s ceremony was also addressed by the line minister for NAWASA, Senator Norland Cox, who acknowledged that while “a number of projects” are in the pipeline and “we have a number of things that we have to improve on”.

“I believe that with growth (and) proper planning we can achieve those goals as we move forward,” he told the gathering.

The ceremony to commission NAWASA’s new headquarters was also attended by Anthony Mac Leish, who is into his third consecutive term as Chairman of the Board of Directors, which sat to deliberate the way forward for the new facility, Parliamentary Representative for the Town of St. George, Agriculture Minister Peter David, and other invited guests including trade union leaders.

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