PUC acts on all options to boost water supply


The conference delegates in a souvenir photograph with guests after the opening ceremony

This came out yesterday at a conference where funding agencies, donors and experts listened to the main aspects of the all-inclusive Seychelles Water Master Plan, which was discussed at Le Méridien Barbarons Resort.

Among the agencies represented was the European Investment Bank (EIB) which said the options put forward are credible and the economic climate is now right for funding, and is proposing to soon disburse about 27 million euros repayable over a 20-year period after a five-year grace period to support the plan.

“We are very close to arriving at a conclusion. The project appraisal has been done and we expect to sign for and disburse funds early next year, at the latest,” said EIB’s head of division for southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Dr Serge-Arno Klumper.

He said the EIB now finds Seychelles’ economy solid enough to get involved but would otherwise not have taken part in the financing effort.

“We have not worked in Seychelles for more than 10 years for example because the economic situation was getting worse and we didn’t think the framework was right. Now the framework is right and we have come back to Seychelles and we are co-financing the internet cable project also.

He said the Seychelles water project will be important as it will serve as a showcase for other Indian Ocean island nations.

Dr Klumper said he has confidence in the current management of the Public Utilities Corporation.

PUC’s chief executive Robert Stravens said during the next five years the corporation needs R1.4 billion.

“We have identified funding for 83% of that from loans at very favourable rates so we still need about R200 million.

PUC is seeking to get more water from available sources, protect others by providing sewerage systems to cut pollution by septic tanks, for example on La Digue – where a major sewerage project will be launched soon – increase storage, for example by raising the capacity of La Gogue dam, reducing water loss through illegal connections and pipe leaks and getting desalinated water for use in emergency situations when rains fail.

In the past years La Gogue dam was filling up during the wet season but the last rains did not fill it up, Mr Stravens said, pointing at climate change as the culprit which was said to hit island nations harder than mainland countries.

Home Affairs, Environment and Transport Minister Joel Morgan called the donor conference “the final milestone of the Water Development Plan which is our map for investment in the water sector up to the year 2030”.

He said Seychelles has been affected by water shortages for almost two decades, during which the country has embarked on many new projects in the tourism and industrial sectors, not forgetting the rapidly expanding commercial and housing sectors.

“With increased development pressure, we have encountered serious challenges of increased watershed pollution and higher demands on the water supply,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the provision of infrastructure such as water supply and sewerage services have not kept pace with the increase in development, due to insufficient financial resources to implement capital intensive infrastructure projects in those sectors.
“The issue of environmental management, water security and related integrated water resources management in Seychelles are high on our national agenda for sustainable development.
He said a request for the funding of the master plan was presented to the African Water Facility and the project was appraised favourably in 2008, resulting in the successful implementation of the Master Plan project.

“The main thrust of today’s meeting is to secure funding for the implementation of identified projects, to meet the water deficits for the immediate future and to lead to the achievement of Seychelles’ Vision 2020 objectives.”

He said it was gratifying to note those at the meeting included representatives of the United Nations Development Programme, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa UNDP, the African Water Facility and the European Investment Bank among other funding agencies.
Among dignitaries present at the forum’s opening were Vice-President Danny Faure, ministers and top civil servants.

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