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Mar 6, 2019

San Jose Succotz Residents Concerned over Extremely High Water Bills

Discrepancies in water bills have more than two dozen families in San Jose Succotz in Cayo irate. Residents say that their most recent bills from Belize Water Service are extremely and inexplicably high. One resident’s water bill is more than a thousand dollars for the month of February while another bill is more than one thousand five hundred dollars. The residents say they will not pay the bills until and unless BWS provides an adequate explanation for the excessively high bills. BWS has issued a statement saying that a former meter reader wrongly estimated the readings for ‘several months’. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Residents of the Prospero Patt Area of San Jose Succotz Village in Cayo are up in arms after receiving unusually and extremely high water bills.

 

Joseph Panti

Joseph Panti, Resident

“Most of our neighbours here got the same big bill. I got eight hundred and eighty two dollars. My neighbour got one of two hundred and change. The other one got a thousand sixty. The following one got a thousand five hundred. The next one beside that got a thousand five hundred. The next one beside that got a thousand five hundred again. The other ones on the other side they got two hundred and change and even the other one got like a four hundred and something.”

 

Joseph Panti’s bill for the month of February is eight hundred and eighty-two dollars and twenty-four cents. He is being told that his household consumed more than forty-six thousand gallons of water during that period. It’s a tremendous and alarming increase compared to the previous months.

 

Joseph Panti

“It is really unusual to have something like this. I guess I am not a hotel. I am not someone who consumes this amount of water. I prefer to do something else but not pay this bill. This bill honestly, I will not be paying this bill.”

 

Jose Lopez says that same. His bill amounted to an incredible one-thousand and sixty-three dollars and three cents.

 

Jose Lopez

Jose Lopez, Resident

“I was shocked because the payment I usually pay is eighty to ninety dollars because I share water with some of our neighbours. But when I realize and see it, well I just smiled and I was shock. Are they crazy or what?”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“They are saying that you consumed that amount of water for that month, is it possible?”

 

Jose Lopez

“No, it is not possible. We live in Belize at a time that is not such a good time. I am a mason and I work daily for fifty dollars day for my four kids. I just want to tell the people to fight for our right. It is not just me. It is almost all of Succotz people and part of Benque. What I am saying is that I am not paying that water bill.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“That’s one thousand…”

 

 

Jose Lopez

“One thousand and sixty-three dollars. We know that money does not come from heaven. We have to sweat for it. I think that if we accept to pay, they will do it again, and again and again.”

 

Lopez’s neighbor, Felipita Tut’s water bill was over a thousand percent higher when compared to last month’s figures.

 

Felipita Tut

Felipita Tut

“This month it came to one ten. The thing is that I usually pay eight seventy two. They say for the other neighbours, they don’t have readings. For my one they have. So I don’t know why they say that. They say maybe it was water that was consumed before but for my one they have readings for the past months.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“You are not going to pay?”

 

Felipita Tut

“No. I don’t think so. It is too much.”

 

Too much is not the description says Elmer Puc. His water bill is extremely and inexplicably high too.

 

Elmer Puc

Elmer Puc, Resident

“I am here for almost five years. In the past we have had bills from anywhere from twenty, thirty. One summer days it goes up to fifty but getting a bill in the three figures. My one was four hundred and sixty seven dollars and it varies as you go along the neighbourhood. It is very ridiculous.”

 

For Iris Cocom, her regular monthly bill of eight dollars and seventy-two cents took a leap to one hundred and ninety-nine dollars for the recent reading.

 

Iris Cocom

“When I see my bills I don’t believe it because I don’t consume all of that water. For me it is a lot.”

 

Hipolito Novelo 

“Do you think the reading was a mistake or the figures are right?”

 

Iris Cocom

Iris Cocom

“It is a real mistake because we don’t consume all this water. We want a solution right here. All my neighbours are asking the same question. They want to know because it is not right that we pay a lot. It is too much.”

 

So went wrong and whose fault is it? Well according to the Belize Water Service, ‘a former meter reader, who is no longer employed with the company, appears to have falsified readings for several months.’ That meter reader, according to BWS, entered numbers slightly higher than the previous actual reading. BWS says that the newly assigned meter reader brought in the actual readings which resulted in the high water bills. BWS says that there was no error in the customer’s overall consumption. But the residents are not satisfied with this explanation.

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Did they mention how many months he was doing this for?”

 

Elmer Puc

“That is exactly what is troubling because they don’t have an actual date. They are saying anywhere to a year and a year and a half. All this while we have been getting bills and we have been paying whatever is on there which in on my opinion is has been almost regular to what I have been paying. So now getting another bill, all of a sudden that is very high it is bad. BWS is claiming that it was lower. Hence now they are doing the back billing. The neighbourhood is planning to get together and see if we can get some legal advice at some point because I think that there are laws that protect you from back billing and so on.”

 

BWS says it wants to meet with the residents to review their bills and agree on a payment plan in order to have the high bills cleared.

 

Elmer Puc

“Apparently it was consumed and that is what they arguing and that we have to pay for it. They are not giving an option. They are not coming back to check to see if there is anything wrong.”

 

Joseph Panti

“They can to come and show their faces to us. They have to come here and we are asking for that. This is not normal. If someone needs to be blame; I guess why don’t do your worker that you hired and ask him to pay it because eight hundred and eighty two dollars is not easy to get at the moment.”

 

Some twenty to thirty families were affected. Hipolito Novelo, News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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