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#359213 - 11/27/09 10:04 AM Protest against 10.6% rise in water rates today
Marty Online   happy
The general public is hereby informed that members of the San Pedro Town community will be conducting a peaceful protest through the principal streets of San Pedro Town. The protest is scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. from the Central Park on Friday, November 27th, 2009. The protest will then move through the main streets of San Pedro and culminate at the Central Park.

The purpose of the protest is to publicly reject the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) initial approval of 10.6% increase in water rate for the Belize Water Service Limited. A letter will be circulated during the protest and signatures will be collected. This will then be forwarded to the PUC before December 2nd, 2009.

For further information please contact organizer Jorge Aldana at 662-0143.

San Pedro Sun

#359226 - 11/27/09 10:39 AM Re: Protest against 10.6% rise in water rates toda [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
San Pedranos protest against BWSL Rate Increase

One group of concerned citizens is making sure that its objections to the recent proposal by the Public Utilities Commision (PUC) to increase rates for Belize Water Services Ltd. (BWSL), are heard loud and clear.

Members of the San Pedro community on Ambergris Caye will be conducting a peaceful protest through the principal streets of San Pedro Town on Friday, November 27th, 2009.

The PUC recently gave its initial approval for a 10.6% increase of BWSL’s water rates. It also opened the period for receiving objections from the general public until Dec. 2nd.

In a telephone interview with the organize, Jorge Aldana said that as a concerned citizen, he had initially determined to stage an individual public protest. But when word got out, many people expressed an interest in joining him and the idea evolved for a generalized demonstration against PUC’s approval of the rate increase.

“At this time, consumers cannot take any increase in payments for utilities, with the cost of living as high as it is, especially after the Prime Minister declared the country to be in recession,” he said. “This move should be postponed until after the state of recession is lifted. We in San Pedro are already paying four times per 1,000 gallons what people on the mainland are paying,” he continued. “This is a large discrepancy. Also, BWSL plans to use their increased revenues to invest in other expansion projects countrywide; ultimately, it is the consumers who end up paying for those projects. Why should they be using our money to make profits?”

This, he summed up, is the basis of Friday’s protest. He said that “many businesses will be voluntarily closing while the protest is on to show their support.” A letter will also be circulated and signatures collected. This letter will then be submitted to the PUC before the Dec. 2nd deadline, as well as be copied to the Prime Minister.

Aldana is urging all concerned citizens to join the avowedly non-partisan protest, wearing white T-shirts and bearing home-made placards with: No to the Increase! messages.

The march is to start at 9:00 a.m. from the Central Park and then move through the main streets of San Pedro, ending back at Central Park.

The Reporter

#359318 - 11/28/09 10:21 AM Re: Protest against 10.6% rise in water rates toda [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

San Pedranos March Against Water Rate Increase

Last week the Public Utilities Commission approved a 10.6% increase in the cost of water as part of a business plan by Belize Water Services Limited. Interested parties have until December 2nd to submit objections and today San Pedranos submitted theirs. But it wasn’t in writing, they did it on the protest line and I was there. Here’s the story.

Jacqueline Godwin Reporting,
The peaceful protest may not have had in attendance the desired amount of people on foot but the demonstration to reject the Public Utilities Commission’s initial approval of 10.6% increase in water rates for Belize Water Services Limited sure did manage to get the number of signatures from its citizens who were mobile.

Conway Campbell, Resident - San Pedro Town
“Why is this, we don’t need it. It is just not, it is going to be too hard for the people. To cut a long story short it is just not right and we are speaking out on it and we are not going to just sit by and watch them impose this ridiculous increase of rate on water. The general public is crying out right now.”

Jorge Aldana, Organizer - Peaceful Protest
“This 10% increase will affect us more than anybody else in the country. Those who are paying $9 will not feel the pain. We are going to feel the pain here because we will be seeing a almost three dollars increase.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
“Some may argue that this is a tourist destination so you guys can afford it.”

Jorge Aldana,
“Well Jackie those who live it know what they are going through. I know because I live on the street. I speak to a lot of people. I go to a lot of poor people house and I am a very humble person. That is my crowd that I hang out with. So I know what they are going through. The real reality of San Pedro Jackie is that we have a lot of poverty.”

Valdemar Graniel, Protestor
“Here in San Pedro we are the ones that pay the most for everything. We are isolated so we have to pay an extra cost for everything, every construction material, for food, for anything because they have to bring it by boat. So we are always paying more than any municipality, any other town or anyone else.”

The residents say they simply do not have the money to support any increase.

Jorge Aldana,
“I think we cannot handle a 10.6% at this time and we have outlined that we are submitting five main reasons we are not accepting this 10.6%. One of the reasons is that there is an unemployment rate on the island and not only on the island but across the country and at this time when we are going through unemployment crisis, a 10.6% increase will only cause a burden on families who are going through employment.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
“Dollar wise how much more money are the residents expected to pay?”

Jorge Aldana,
“Here in San Pedro we are expected to pay a little below $3 and San Pedro on a whole pays four times the amount of water compared to what mainland pays. Mainland pays little below $8. We are paying almost $23 for 1,000 gallons of water.”

Conway Campbell,
“This is solely for the people and the people only and if we get the support that we need, then I think that we should be able to make a difference. The whole idea is to get the message across so that the individuals in their homes would understand that we feel their pain and we also know what they are going through and hopefully we will get the message across to the general public and that is the main initiative that we are taking right now. So hopefully they will be some response.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
“How optimistic are you today’s protest will have any effect on the PUC decision?”

Jorge Aldana,
“Well I cannot speak for PUC, I can speak for myself and as a Belizean I think it is the responsibility of the PUC to respect any queries, any concern, by any private citizen and that is my intention, to submit my objections to their ruling. Every Belizean has a right to do that. Again I cannot speak for the PUC. We have organized this to collect signatures to submit our objections to the initial approval by the PUC.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
“How many signatures are you looking to collect?”

Jorge Aldana,
“We are looking to collect at least 100 signatures. We have gotten commitment from a lot of people that they will be coming out to join me in this protest initially. I had planned to have this by myself, come out by myself, even if it is by myself, to come out and protest against the 10.6% increase I would do it, even if I have to go to Belmopan I would do it Jackie.”

Today San Pedro Ambergris Caye celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary as a township but as the occasion is commemorated there are factors affecting its future development. The residents say they are not only fighting against the 10.6% increase in water rates but as well the high interest rates charged by the commercial banks and the lack of security they say that is on the island.

Valdemar Graniel,
“Government should intervene and try to do something about the banks because the rates are terrible and if you don’t owe anything and you just a small loan that is okay but people that loans to build their house that’s $200,000, Jesus that’s very high interest and the banks don’t give you any breaks.”

Jorge Aldana,
“We have been bled in terms of taxes, we’ve been bled all over in aspect you can think of and I think it is time that the San Pedro community come out and speak out for their rights.”

Conway Campbell,
“Tourism has dropped dramatically. There are less jobs now. There is less construction going on and so therefore I don’t see how they are going to manage having this increase. It is ridiculous and so we are marching pretty much this is not a political thing, it is a people thing. Get everybody involved, get our voices heard and the main thing is just to speak out.”

And this resident who came with a rope around his neck probably demonstrated how best Belizeans countrywide feel about the recession and how they are being affected.

Jorge Aldana,
“In no way shape or form this is politically motivated. Everybody will feel this increase; blue, red, yellow, pink, orange - everybody. This should be a concern for everybody.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
“So you hold this protest Jorge, nothing happens, the rate increase goes through, what’s the next step?”

Jorge Aldana,
“Belmopan Jackie, I’ll go, even if I have to go to Belmopan by myself I am going there. I think it is something that the Prime Minister needs to reconsider.”

Despite recent media reports from the united states that predict things will not return to normal in North America until four to five years time if come to pass Belize’s economic future will continue to look bleak but there are those who continue to hope that the recession will be short lived.

Jorge Aldana,
“I would hope that it happens Jackie. It is my hope as a Belizean to see any government succeeds and I do hope that the current administration finds ways and means to get us out of this recession, especially for us in San Pedro we depend on tourism a lot, we depend a lot on what the economic indicators indicate to our central government so it is my hope that the government finds a solution.”

BWS had originally requested a 25% in water rates. The PUC’s decision – barring any changes – takes effect on April 1st of next year. Organizers say they have collected 500 signatures.

Channel 7

#359339 - 11/28/09 01:15 PM Re: Protest against 10.6% rise in water rates toda [Re: Marty]
Phil Offline
Anyone know the status of the water mains and sewage lines BWS ran from The High School to the Bridge. Seems to have stopped dead with no services.

#359891 - 12/03/09 01:47 PM Re: Protest against 10.6% rise in water rates toda [Re: Phil]
Marty Online   happy

Islanders protest initial 10.6% water increase approved by PUC

On Wednesday, December 2nd the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) closed the date for submission of objection for the initial approval of 10.6% increase in water services. But before the deadline for objections, islanders took their objections to the street on Friday, November 27th in the form of a protest. Close to 100 private citizens gathered at the Central Park with placards in hands displaying messages that clearly rejecting PUC’s approval in water increase.

    According to the citizens, objection and rejection of the increase was based on six main grounds. Those reasons were outlined in a letter which was sent to the PUC. Those reasons as out lined are primarily because of: 1) Many Belizeans are out of a job as the unemployment rate continues to steadily increase. An increase in water rate will only add more to the burden that families are facing as they go through unemployment. 2) Cost of living is too high and many families are living on a minimum salary and are hardly making ends meet. Until the relevant authorities address the issue of “high cost of living” then we are willing to consider an increase in water service. 3) The country is in a recession and until the economic indicators suggests otherwise then we are not accepting an increase. 4) We are of the strong belief that water consumers should not pay for any expansion project that BWSL wants to implement. BWSL is in the business of making a profit and that profit should be allotted for expansion projects. 5) Residents of San Pedro are paying in excess of $22 per 1000 gallons of water as compared to other parts of the country that pay less than $9 for the same amount; hence we are not willing to pay a cent more for water services on Ambergris Caye. 6) Water is a basic necessity and it should not be used as a profit making business. Hence the government’s responsibility is to ensure that consumers pay the minimum rate on basic necessity such as water.

    A list of over 500 signatures was attached with the letter that was sent to the PUC and copied to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. If the objections are not accepted and taken into consideration, there is a plan to stage a protest at the next sitting of the House of Representative in Belmopan, scheduled for December 11th. The PUC stated that if no objections were received, the new increase would come into effect at the beginning of the next fiscal year which starts on April 1st, 2010.

San Pedro Sun


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