Utility firms to resume service disconnection

Published May 17, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Now that lockdown restrictions in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal – or the so-called NCR Plus – is back to general community quarantine (GCQ), Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Company Inc. are already allowed to resume service disconnection activities to customers who failed to pay for two consecutive months.  

In a text exchange, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said the agency’s no disconnection policy only applies during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified (ECQ).

“So once this is lifted, we go back to normal operations. Consumers who may be affected may go to the nearest business centers of Maynilad or Manila Water and request for a payment plan to pay their bills in installments to avoid disconnections,” Ty said over the weekend.

Based on MWSS’ disconnection policy, concessionaires are allowed to disconnect customers whose bills have remained unpaid for a period of 60 days after their due date.

But the Concessionaires shall provide the customer with not less than seven days prior Written Notice of any such disconnection.

On Friday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under GCQ with “heightened restrictions” from May 15 to May 31.This was amid a decline in new cases of COVID-19 in the country.

For more than a month, Maynilad and Manila Water were prohibited from disconnecting service to customers based on MWSS Regulatory Office’s (MWSS RO) order.

On April 30, MWSS RO reiterated that as long as the NCR Plus is under MECQ, Maynilad and Manila Water are not allowed to disconnect customers.

At the time, the agency also ordered the concessionaires to provide uninterrupted 24-hour water supply in their respective Service Areas.

This is to ensure that all customers receive a clean and adequate water supply for their health and sanitation requirements, especially amid the pandemic.

Moreover, the MWSS RO requested the continued cooperation and assistance of concerned local government units (LGUs), as the concessionaires conduct their meter reading and billing activities during the period of MECQ.

Last year, both concessionaires were also ordered to temporarily suspend their respective water service disconnection activities, but this somehow took a toll on the financial performance of the two companies.

The government order was issued in consideration of many workers displaced at the height of the pandemic. The government eventually allowed both companies to disconnect customers in the latter part of last year.