MONROVIA, Montserrado – On Jan. 14, several employees and the management of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation converged at the company’s White Plains facility to wine and dine at a year-end party amid the continued water outage in Central Monrovia and the occasional outages in surrounding neighborhoods.
Year-end parties are a staple among Liberian businesses and government agencies and they are often important for maintaining and boosting employee morale. Even the Liberia Electricity Corporation, another utility provider, regularly holds these celebrations.
Additionally, at the time of the party, there was no known system-wide outage.
But some anonymous employees of LWSC who spoke exclusively with The Bush Chicken said they did not see a need for a celebration when LWSC faced so many challenges.
“The corporation did not achieve anything in 2016 that should warrant a year-end party,” one worker said.
The employees indicated their discomfort with the festivity because they said residents of Monrovia and surrounding areas have consistently lacked water. They also said that many residents are dealing with broken pipes.
In 2016, several businesses and households within the Monrovia metropolitan region experienced bouts of interrupted water supply, including a wave of outages that lasted at least two-thirds of the month of July.
In another instance, from Nov. 26-30, large swathes of the region were without water, including Congo Town and Paynesville. In most cases, LWSC did not issue any public service announcement on the outages and when they would be resolved.
In an interview with Liberia Broadcasting Corporation, Hum-bu Tulay, managing director of LWSC, said the year-end celebration was meant to reward employees of the corporation who had worked diligently over the past 12 months. According to Tulay, cash and certificates were given as recognition to employees.
The honored employees were rewarded for sustaining the water supply to Monrovia, he said. He explained that the LWSC management also challenged employees to work harder.
Tulay maintained that the entire board is also concerned about the lack of water being supplied to Central Monrovia, which continues even when the White Plains water treatment plant is functional.
LWSC board chairman Kimmie Weeks has sought to clarify that the outage in Central Monrovia existed “since before I was chairman” – over four years ago.
“Central Monrovia has not had water, and it’s therefore something that we prioritized solving,” Weeks wrote in an email. He said trucking water via tankers, as previously reported by The Bush Chicken, is a strategy LWSC is taking to address the localized water outage.
“The tankers were being used as part of the effort to solve the Central Monrovia problem,” he said. “The biggest thing we need to do to solve the central Monrovia water problem is to get the water to the booster on Newport Street. We are now passed [the Antoinette Tubman Stadium].”
Jefferson Krua contributed to this article. Featured photo by Zeze Ballah.