After 492 days since his ascension to Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) top job, Chief Executive Officer Gaselemogwe Senai, believes the corporation under his leadership is on course to “keep it flowing.”
Senai’s substantive appointment comes after spending the remainder of 2019 to June 2020 on an acting Chief Executive capacity. He was replacing Mmetla Masire whose contract was not renewed by WUC board and presently the corporation faces an uphill task of recovering over a billion pula in water bills owed by Government and households.
WUC efforts to collect debts were hindered by the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, which necessitated a Presidential directive to stop water cuts on properties with huge unpaid bills.
Sharing his journey so far, Senai revealed that what attracted him to the position was because of his wealth of experience in the water sector having delivered major projects on sustainability and water resources management. A CEO post naturally gives him an opportunity to manage these areas at a higher level, something he continues to do since his appointment.
Senai’s targets upon his appointment included accelerating the implementation of NDP 11, World Bank and WUC capital projects, transforming WUC into a Regional benchmark as a Centre of Excellence through key Strategic Outputs such as revising and Implementing the Organizations` Corporate Strategy that underpins Customer Focus, Management Excellence and Operational Excellence.
Senai said “on the implementation of NDP 11, World Bank and WUC capital projects, most projects are running while others are nearing completion. The Lobatse Water Master Plan is ongoing. Gamononyane-Molepolole NSC has started while Masama-Mmamashia 100km pipeline is complete.”
“The North East and Tutume Sub District Water Supply Scheme – Upgrade and Remedial Works Project that connects 52 Villages to a more reliable water source is nearing completion. The NSC 2.3 Gaborone Water Master Plan reinforcement works project is in progress. The restructuring exercise project is 100 per cent complete and we are operating with a new structure. We also have a new and revised Tariff as at 1 April 2021,” he said.
Earlier this year the corporation had told staff through a memo it had an overall domestic debt around P673 million which needed to be collected. The debt has increased over the period and it is presently around P1.2 billion and more than 65 percent of which is of domestic customers.
Senai said “Total current debt is P1,2 Billion, and domestic debt accounts for P809 Million from the total debt. Domestic debt has increased over the period, and this is a concern for WUC as domestic customer segment is the biggest segment within WUC by volume.”
WUC has implemented measures such as consistent Communication with Customers and stakeholders during the SOE, account Management Campaign that promotes participation by customers in active account management. Extending flexible payment plan arrangements to improve customer affordability of outstanding bills. Communicating multiple payment channels, those that are WUC owned and those that are for third Party partners like banks. All in an effort to create customer awareness and promote active account management.
On the issue of billing, the corporation has experienced a variety of challenges. Senai said “the process of billing is broad and requires responsibility by all stakeholders to achieve highest quality output. At a high level we are using conventional water meters installed at customer premises through which we capture readings and produce a bill.”
“In the process we encounter numerous challenges that were focused on working with our customer on resolving, limited access to meters results in inability to read meters, hence results bill estimations. We encourage customers to know their meter reading cycles, and make effort to submit via the Digital Channels, at Service Centres or the Contact Centre.
“High water consumptions are mostly due to leakages or water losses on the customers’ premises. We encourage customers to actively observe their monthly consumptions, changes in consumption level/billed amounts and periodically maintain infrastructure to curb water losses. Access to Bills – WUC distributes customer bills electronically, and through its Digital Channels allows customer access to bills. Improving access to information improves better account management and relationship with our customers,” Senai said.