The Utilities Consumers Alliance of Negros (UCAN) has recommended the postponement of the bidding for the proposed bulk water supply project of the Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa) primarily due to lack of transparency.

In its position paper released Thursday signed by Father Ernie Larida, UCAN president, the group said they conducted consultations with various stakeholders taking into consideration their discussions with the procuring entity.

“It is the stand of UCAN that indeed, there is a shortage of water supply in the coverage area of Baciwa. The existing source of water supply of Baciwa is not enough to meet the increasing demand of the consumers,” the group said.

“However, the idea of bulk water to be supplied by a private group/s corollary to the bidding is being hastily made,” it added.

At least nine firms had earlier expressed interest to join the bidding for the contract price of P54 million a year for each injection point for 25 years.

The Baciwa Bids and Awards Committee chaired by Engineer Jenelyn Gemora has set the deadline for the submission of the bids and eligibility requirements for Injection Pump No. 1 on July 1, and for the Injection Pump No. 2, on July 2.

Moreover, the UCAN cited the lack of transparency on the part of Baciwa as it failed to present the detailed and comprehensive feasibility study despite the valid request of UCAN and other stakeholders.

“UCAN finds such failure unacceptable,” the group said.

It added that “the justification presented by Baciwa for their refusal to show or submit the feasibility study for fear that this might leak out, and possibly be used as a basis by prospective bidders must yield to the greater interest of the public, particularly of the people of Bacolod.”

“It is the conclusion of UCAN therefore, that there exists no detailed and comprehensive feasibility study considering the fact that there is no showing of any book, document, folder, or anything entitled feasibility study,” the group said.

The UCAN also said that going into the bulk water supply project “will lead to privatization as the bulk water project will last for 25 years and the start of contracting with the private sector for the purchase of the main product of Baciwa.”

“Baciwa failed to exhaust other options such as but not limited to “water district to water district project,” it further said.

The group added that “instead of buying from the private sector they should buy water or discuss any scheme from nearby water districts such as Murcia, Talisay, Silay, Bago so that all sectors will justly benefit.”