Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zolic at Point of Breakdown

Operations in the Free Industry and Trade Zone (Zolic) in Puerto Barrios could break down at any moment due to a lack of piped water which is used to cool the boilers and cooling towers of the tenants.

Aguas de Izabal suspended water service a month ago due to default in payment.

Risk of explosion

David Tobar, general manager of Zolic, said Aguas de Izabal suspended service "without dialogue with us to minimize risks and dangers that it might cause the two seaports in the area."

Water is necessary to extract heat from boilers and refrigeration systems. Lack of water could result in an explosion. Because of the nearby oil and fuel tanks, such an explosion "could destroy both Puerto Santo Tomás de Castilla and Puerto Barrios." "The representatives of Aguas de Izabal do not take this into account," he added.

He stated that Zolic is unable to pay the increased rates because they have no budget for it.

Excessive rise

Mr. Tobar recalled that the water service used to be provided by the municipal company Hydro Atlantic, S. A., and the cost was approximately Q4,000 per month. But in 2007 the concession Aguas de Izabal, suddenly increased the monthly cost to Q18,000 and then to Q78,000 per month.

He considers that the suspension of the service was in bad faith because it is known that interruption of water could result in an explosion of the overheated boilers and tanks.

Fernando Barrera, an official with Aguas de Izabal, confirmed that they cut off service to Zolic due to lack of payment.

Walderma Barrera, of the Office of Human Rights, said that it is unfair that a concession company that did not invest in the water distribution system is attempting to charge a state entity so much money.

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