By LITO RULONA
COUNCILORS yesterday took turns in calling for major reforms in the Cagayan de Oro Water District, saying the water crisis that has been gripping the city since late September highlighted the need to privatize or turn it into a cooperative or end its monopoly.
Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr., chairman of the city council’s committee on public utilities, said there was a need to review the COWD’s charter and see if congressional action could usher in reforms.
Lao said COWD should face competition so that it would be forced to shape up, and to ensure a reliable supply of tap water in the city.
He said his committee would seek the legal opinion of the Local Water Utilities Administration about how the COWD could be privatized.
Lao said the private sector can help invite investors.
Councilor Enrico Salcedo said he preferred that the COWD be run by a cooperative.
He said there were calls to turn the COWD into a cooperative during the Jaraula administration but there was no support from city hall at that time.
Salcedo, chairman of the city council’s committee on cooperatives, said the COWD would be in better hands under a cooperative whose members are the city’s water consumers.
He called on cooperatives and consumers to revive their advocacy and pursue pursue their plan of taking over the management and operations of the COWD.
Salcedo blamed the water crisis on the COWD, saying it was caught unprepared and did not upgrade in order to cope with the growing demand for tap water of the city.
Councilor Reuben Daba said COWD has long been mismanaged, and it has been losing because of leakages and illegal connections.
“Gadako ang siyudad unya ang water district kulang kaayo sa ilang serbisyo,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lao said the COWD has claimed to have a 10-year development plan but he has apprehensions.
“Nahadlok kita nga ma-obsolete na usab kanang ilang gi-ingon nga modernization and service upgrade. What we want is a private group that is financially capable and who is willing to invest for a modern water system,” Lao said. “Nagkinahanglan na kita og bag-o gyud. Mag-unsa man kanang barato unya mag-antus gihapon kita?”