Thursday, June 13, 2024

Borehole drilling fraud surfaces but can Competition Authority nip it in the bud? 

Only time will tell if the Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) will in due course ‘name and shame’ or even investigate companies in the water drilling space that are involved in unfair and fraudulent businesses practices. 

For now, the CCA has confirmed that it has been receiving a high number of consumer complaints against some ‘unnamed’ local borehole drilling companies. 

“From January 2022 to date, the CCA has received a total of 63 consumer complaints against borehole drilling companies,” says CCA. 

The CCA says the common thread among the complaints is that borehole drilling companies usually request for a down, or full payment before the actual service can be carried out. 

“In most cases, these companies disappear without providing such service, while in some instances, the delivery of the service drags for months often causing inconvenience to the consumers. Some complaints relate to substandard drilling services, which were done without reasonable care and skill,” reads part of a CCA statement issued this past week. 

While the CCA statement is silent on whether further investigations are being carried, and on the likely action that will be taken against the fraudsters, the authority for now advised consumers to liaise with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in their respective areas to obtain technical advice before engaging a borehole drilling company.

“The department can also assist consumers with an updated list of licensed borehole drilling contractors, ground water consultants and pump tests contractors to use,” says CCA.

The CCA’s collaborations with the DWS is said to have revealed that it is always advisable for consumers to ensure that agreements with their respective drillers detail the technical specifications of drilling the borehole, which include the agreed method of drilling, the design, construction and cleaning of the borehole.

Meanwhile the CCA has advised consumers to consider some guidelines before engaging or contracting any borehole drilling company. This includes ensuring that the borehole drilling company is legitimate and registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA), and is licensed and fully operational. Given that some companies are said to be nomadic, consumers have been tipped to also verify the physical location of their service providers. 

“Ensure that before the actual drilling takes place, there is an agreement that entails the services that are to be performed by the driller and such be fully understood before any contract signing and payment is made. Be available on site throughout the drilling process and ensure there is close supervision of the borehole drilling by qualified and experienced personnel,” CCA advises.

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