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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 04/07/2007

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(MENAFN - Jordan Times) AMMAN — Minister of Water and Irrigation Thafer Alem on Tuesday said his ministry will continue reinforcing private sector participation in water resource management to improve services and reduce water loss.

Alem made the remarks during the official launch of the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna), which replaced LEMA at the start of this year as the capital's water and sewage management company.

"The water sector's development plan mainly depends on increasing the role of the private sector and applying its mechanisms in water resource management, including advanced commercial practices," Alem said.

Miyahuna, a commercial government-owned company, is administrated by the Greater Amman Municipality, which owns 15-20 per cent of its share capital, as well as the Jordan Valley Authority, the Water Authority of Jordan, the ministries of water and planning and the Jordan Electric Power Company.

With the company's technical support provided by USAID, Alem underlined the need for additional support from international organisations, particularly during the company's first five years, so it can complete its programmes to renovate the water network, eliminate deficiencies and reduce water loss.

"Even with international support, however, we should come up with suitable sustainable solutions for water sector problems and be able to retain local talent and experts, who are constantly leaving the country for better jobs abroad," he added.

During yesterday's launch, USAID Mission Director Jay Knott said providing a reliable supply of water over the long term was not so simple.

"A water company must have among its key objectives customer satisfaction, environmental conservation and financial sustainability," Knott explained.

"In order to achieve these objectives, the water company must be successful in improving services, reducing water losses and increasing cost recovery," he continued.

These three elements are interwoven tightly and present both a challenge and opportunity for Miyahuna and its management, the USAID official said, adding that both the water company and customers must ensure better compliance with environmental regulations in order to safeguard the scarce resource.

A total of 32 per cent of Amman's water supply is channelled from the King Abdullah Canal, 25 per cent from the Zara Main project and Mujib, 17 per cent from wells in Khaw, Lajoun and Wallah, while 27 per cent is from wells in and around the capital.

In the first five months of 2007 since Miyahuna took over, the average response time for water cuts stood at 3.2 hours compared to 3.9 during the same period last year.

During the same comparative period, the average response time for sewage blockages dropped to 1.86 hours from 2.6, and for water quality complaints to 45 minutes from one hour.

According to the company sources, a total of JD30,000 was saved in electricity costs, bill collection increased by 13 per cent and billing complaints reduced by 10 per cent compared to the first five months of 2006.

The company's 2007-2011 plan, still being examination by the board of directors, includes implementing 52 projects at a cost of JD137 million.

"The company will provide around JD80 million for financing these projects, while the rest will funded by international partners," Miyahuna Executive Director Kamal Zu'bi said yesterday.

The 1,200-employee company provides water and sewage services to 2.6 million people in the capital.


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