BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
SOLOMON Water has labelled the front page article in the Island Sun newspaper by Mr Alfred Sasako on Wednesday’s headlined ‘New Water Fee’ as misleading.
The article claimed that thousands of Solomon Water’s customers have been dealt an extra bill to pay in the event their accounts are disconnected and forfeiture of their initial deposit.
“Apart from settling their arrears and reconnection fee, defaulters will now be required to put down a house deposit fee.
“House deposit once upon a time only applied to new connections.
“Now it appears that once an account is disconnected, the account holder has to pay a new house deposit besides arrears and reconnection fee.”
In one case, the article cited, a current existing customer was told to pay $1,010 (one thousand and ten dollars) in new house deposit charge before his account could be reconnected.
The new charge prompted the customer to demand an explanation from the Solomon Water management, saying such a huge outlay is not justified.
He said the new connection and reconnection fees are fair but certainly not the new house deposit charge when one is disconnected.
However, according to Solomon Water in their media statement, the house deposit is not a new fee but is a current fee which has been in place for several years and is charged to customers in the following situations.
- On application for a new water connection
- Existing Customers who have not paid initial House deposits
- Customers whose accounts have been closed or disconnected due to unpaid water fees for a period of time. Standard practice and the exact purpose of the house deposit is that the deposit be used to offset the arrears. As the house deposit has been used for payment of unpaid water bills, the customers will be required to reinstate their house deposit before reconnection can occur.
“The complainant in this instance had never paid a house connection, so falls into category 2 above,” says Solomon Water.
“It should be noted also that after the complainant’s water was disconnected in 2017 for unpaid charges, an illegal connection was made, and the customer only came forward to pay the account, including house deposit, account arrears, illegal fee and reconnection fee when the illegal connection was disconnected by Solomon Water staff in June 2018.
“To clarify, there is no new fee, the complainant has simply been charged appropriately in accordance with our fees.”
Solomon Water’s General Manager Mr Ian Gooden says, “This was all explained to the complainant’s family member when the charges were paid, and had the complainant approached us, this could have been explained to him as well and an erroneous and defamatory article in the press would have been avoided.”
He said neither the Solomon Water executive nor the communications team from Solomon Water were contacted by the journalist for information on this issue.
Being in their announcements every now and then, people who wish to complain about Solomon Water’s services are requested to take their concerns to their Office or dial their landline phone number on 23985, and not the press.
Solomon Water’s Chairman, Phil Bradford also reminds everyone that those people who make illegal water connections and steal water from Solomon Water are in fact stealing money from the good customers who must be forced to subsidise the thefts.
Mr Bradford requests any person who is aware of an illegal water connection to report it to Solomon Water.