By Muhammed Sailu Bah Residents of Gunjur village in the Kombo South District, WesternCouncilor Gunjur Ward Karomo Bojang Region, are requesting for the re-opening of the public taps after they have been closed for more than a month now.When this reporter visited the place during the weekend, some concerned residents complained that many people are being affected by the closure of the taps that has forced some of them to resort to getting water for domestic consumption from the abandoned wells and which they added has some health implications. Salifu Jagne, a young man in his mid-twenties and native of Gunjur, said he runs a restaurant but is seriously affected by the closure of the public taps. “We have been relying on the water from the tap to drink and cook our meals but since the closure, we have been having serious problems,” he said. Mr. Jagne said the situation is forcing people to either beg for water from the few compounds that have taps or resort to the wells. “The problem with the wells is that the water drawn from them sometimes looks creamy in colour and does not seem fit for drink or cooking,” he added. He said the people are suffering from the closure of the taps and called on the authorities to help in re-opening them. “Because of the colour of the water from the wells, some people even buy Eau de Javel (flouride or bleach) to purify it before drinking or using it for cooking,” revealed Mr. Jagne. He also said the water project established last year had been supplying them with water free of charge for 6 months and later NAWEC asked the community to start paying. He said some of the taps now have arrears of up to D25, 000. Another woman who is also a resident of Gunjur reiterated similar concerns. According to her, the compounds have been paying D50 each for their bills. “How can they come and say we have huge arrears? I don’t think it’ll be easy for poor people like us to pay such huge amounts,” she said. Speaking to the Gunjur Ward Councilor on the concerns raised by the residents, Mr. Karamo Bojang said he is aware of the closure of the public taps in Gunjur. The Ward Councillor confirmed that the public taps were installed in 2014 by NAWEC. He said before installing the taps, Nawec officials had a meeting with the elders and Alkalo of the village and the Ward Councilor at the Brikama Area Council to discuss the modalities of how the taps should be managed. He said NAWEC categorically explained to the Area Council that now it is the duty of the community to be responsible for the payment of the water bills of the public taps and not the council. He said when the elders, Alkalo, and Village Development Committee (VDC) members later met with the area council, it was again indicated that the community should be responsible for the taps. The Councillor said each of the respective communities with public taps was tasked to identify one person who should be responsible for collecting the payment. Mr. Bojang said NAWEC was initially charging D2 for every 20 litres of water but that after consultation with the VDC and elders, it was later agreed for every compound to pay D50 per month. According to the Gunjur Ward Councillor, many compounds have been defaulting on this monthly payment for a long time and which resulted in the accumulation of the arrears and the subsequent disconnection of the public taps. Asked what they will be doing to help reconnect the taps, the Ward Councillor said he is working closely with the VDC, Alkalo and elders of the village in finding a solution to the problem. He said they have asked NAWEC to allow the payment of at least half of the amount owed to reconnect the taps and that they have agreed to the proposal. He, however, blamed the members of the community for not complying with this proposal.]]>

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