1. Page 1 of 9 Sierra Leone Water Company Tower Hill, P M Bag 42, Freetown, Sierra Leone +232 76 814 896/+232 76 707 273 THE SIERRA LEONE WATER COMPANY (SALWACO) CUSTOMER SERVICE CHARTER 1.0 About Us The Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) is a wholly governme nt - ow ned utility established by an Act of Parliament in 2001 to develop and operate in every specified area, to provide satisfactory water services at reasonable cost and on the self - supporting basis without adversely affecting the environment. It has power to control water abstraction and pollution in the catchments from which it takes water for its supply area. It can also implement small water supply schemes in rural areas, which it then hands over to the communities concerned for their management. This manda te is further entrenched by the development of the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Policy of 2010, which has increased and strengthened the mandate of SALWACO to perform additional responsibilities including provision of water supply and sewerage s ervices to all urban centres (except Freetown) and the provision of water supply services in rural areas. The SALWACO Bill 2013 based on the Policy is expected to be enacted shortly. The Company has been engaged in a number of urban, peri - urban and rural w ater supply and sanitation projects funded by the Government and d onor agencies. Its operational performance has been extremely challenging since its establishment due to management problems and lack of adequate financial resources needed for fuel and spa re parts for water plants as well as for purchase of chemicals for water treatment . With immediate and long term water supply and sewerage and sanitation objectives, SALWACO should be strengthened both in human as well as financial resources and subjected to operational reforms including instituting managerial accountability through a performance contract and be required to perform its current responsibilities under its Act and those which were devolved to the Local Councils through the Local Government Ac t, 2004, i.e. urban (except Freetown and its environs ) and rural water supply services. In the last few years, the government and development partners, especially the African Development Bank (ADB) have provided financial support to improve both the infra structure and institutional shortcomings.
9. Page 9 of 9 Update SALWACO with any changes of customer and property details promptly Treat SALWACO staff with courtesy Avail all the information requested by SALWACO for the execution of service Abide with the legal requirements and desist from illegal usage of water Avoid collusions and compromis es that would lead to defrauding the Company Report to SALWACO all matters that they deem to have negative impact on service provision and especially any illegal practices observed in the area. Customers are encouraged to bring forth new ideas to help the company understand and serve their needs in a better way. 10.0 Our Plan for the Future Our commitment is centred on making life easy and more comfortable to all our stakeholders. To this end, we plan to: Introduce digital hand held meter reading device s and spot billing. Introduce prepaid meters Carry out research and create systems of improving life to communities around our water drawing points. Research and set up systems to safe guard against future water reduction levels. Work with all our stakehol ders to set up systems that will minimize the effect of floodwater overflows. Research and participate in finding remedies and solutions to climate change. Engage our customers before we a dopt new technologie s
5. Page 5 of 9 3.8 Meter Reading We shall read all meters every 30 days. Where this is not possible, a reasonable estimate will be determined using previous consumption trends of the last three consecutive correct readings. The units consumed will be indicated on the bills and where a reading is estimated, the same will be indicated on the bill. Where bills are estimated, the accounts shall be automatically corrected upon receipt of actual readings in subsequent months. 3.9 Billing We shall maintain a 30 days billing cycle for all customers. The water billing shall be based on the consumption as recorded from the meter. Where a meter is not read, an estimate based on three correct previous readings shall be used 3.10 Bill Distribution We shall distribute water bills to our customer’s premises in the first week of ever y month. Every customer shall be obliged to request our office for their b ill should they not receive it by the first week of the month. 3.11 Collection of Payments It shall be our obligation to facilitate our customers in the process of paying for our s ervices. We shall strive to make this process as convenient and comfortable to the customer as possible by providing a variety of payment options and as many payment points as is economically possible. Such shall include : Direct Debit Over the counter pay ments in selected B anks Electronic funds transfer Automatic teller machine payments Payment via Mobile Money, Splash, etc Any innovations in this field will also be utilized. We shall ensure that all payments to customer accounts are updated on the day of receipt. 3.12 Disconnection SALWACO does not intend to disconnect any of our customers but we shall do so if we get proof of illegal use, a customer fails to pay for our services TWO WEEKS after the billing date, and after a reminder has been sent FIFTE EN (15) days after the billing date .
2. Page 2 of 9 2.0 Purpose of the Charter The purpose of this Charter is to enlighten our esteemed customers and relevant stakeholders on the services provided by SALWACO, their quality and availability and our commitment to the delivery of these services. It also spells out the standard of service delivery that the customers should expect from us and how to seek remedy when we fall below these standards 2.1 Our Vision We envision a transformed SALWACO from a poorly respecte d water and sanitation institution to one of the leading Water and Sanitation utilities in West Africa. 2.2 Our Mission Our Mission of SALWACO is to provide quality and Water and San itation Services to provincial areas at commercial and environmentally su stainable level . 2.3 Our Quality Policy SALWACO is committed to the provision of quality water and sanitation delivery services to our valued customers and other stakeholders in an efficient and cost effective manner, ensuring utmost customer delight and continuous service improvement in an appropriate and environmentally friendly manner. 2.4 Our Core Purposes Satisfied customers Efficient and effective work force Adequate network coverage Conservation of the environment Socially responsible Private se ctor participation Contributing to national development Innovation 2.5 Our Core values Service to the customers above all else Integrity and respect Trust C ommitment
3. Page 3 of 9 Economical Performance oriented management style Opportunity based on merit; no one is e ntitled to anything 2.6 Our Stakeholders Our esteemed water consumers Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone Ministries and Government departments Development partners The media The general public 3.0 Our Services Our mandate from the Government o f Sierra Leone is to operate and provide water and sanitation services in areas entrusted to us on a sound, commercial and viable basis. W e believe that our success will come from providing high quality services, offering excellent customer services, cont inual improvement and placing our customers in a position of priority above everything else. 3.1 Water and Sanitation Services Our commitment is to provide sufficient water and sanitation services to our customers all the time s . We shall ensure that the water we provide meets all the regulatory standards we adhere to and distribute it equitably. 3.2 Extension of Water and Sanitation Services It is our duty to serve the populations of the areas in which we operate with clean, reliable and safe water serv ices. We shall make mains extensions of water services to new areas on the basis of the demand potential. We shall also work with the local authority in the provision of sanitation services in accordance with the required environmental standards 3.3 Wat er Distribution In cases where we cannot satisfy the established demand, we shall publish water distribution schedules for all areas concerned and the residents will be promptly informed.
6. Page 6 of 9 Disconnections for non - payment shall be preceded with a disconnection notice five ( 5 ) days before the disconnection is effected. 3.13 Reconnection A customer that has been disconnected for non - payment will be reconne cted after i. C learing the outstanding balance to zero and upon payment of the stand ard reconnection fee at the time or ii. Agreement has been reached with SALWACO on how the debt will be paid Customers disconnected due to illegal use will be connected legally after they have paid the appropriate penalty and upon successfully meeting our terms. Service disconnected on the customer’s request will be reconnected upon the account holder’s request and after paying the reconnection fee. In all the above cases, we shall effect the reconnection within five ( 5 ) days of the customer meeting the requirements. 3.14 Leakages We shall carry out a daily monitoring of our distribution network and deal with all identified leaks with in 24 hours of detection . 4 .0 Customer S ervice s SALWACO will ensure that all staff are presentable, easily identifiable, and well trained to help in the satisfactory handling of our customer queries. We shall conduct annual customer surveys and stakeholder workshops to assess customer needs and ensure continual service improvement. 4 .1 Customer Complaints We promise to respond to all customer complaints in a timely and satisfactory way. Customers can call a toll free telephone line ......................................., visit our website, www.salwaco.org.sl or visit our customer care desks at any of our offices. Where a customer is not satisfied with the decision taken at the area office level , they can appeal to our Customer Care and Marketing at our H ead O ffice at Tower H ill, Freetown. We shall respond to all complaints of commercial nature brought to us within 24 hours and complaints of technical nature within 3 days of reporting.
7. Page 7 of 9 5 .0 Environmental Safety We shall initiate and join our customers and other stakeholders in activities aimed at improving the environment The Company will ensure a safe working environment where customers will enjoy interacting with staff We shall ensure that our activities do not interfere with the integrity of the surrounding areas 6 .0 Ser vice Provision to the Urban Poor SALWACO recognizes the often desperate situation in the informal, unplanned, settlements of our cities and towns and the low levels of basic public services such as water and sanitation. In our bid to help in the realiza tion of the Millennium Development Goals, we commit ourselves to : Increase access to clean and safe piped water by expanding the network infrastructure coverage in these areas, Apply lower tariffs to the urban poor communities to enable affordability to c lean and safe piped water, Develop and implement pro - poor service initiatives in vulnerable communities Improving on the hygienic and health conditions of the urban poor communities through sensitization of the urban poor communities and the establishment of the pro - poor scheme. 7 .0 Debt Recovery 7 .1 Defaulting Customers We appreciate all our customers and acknowledge the honour they have given us to serve them. Because of this, we will work t o avoid situations of conflict with them. However, i n circu mstances where they do not pay for our services, we shall courteously try all possible ways to recover our dues from them for a period of up to 30 days and when we fail, such customers shall be treated as defaulters. O ur services will be disconnected and t he cases will be liable to be handed over to the D ebt Recovery Section. Where the section fails to recover the debt, the case may be referred to debt collectors for possible legal action which will also involve a 10% surcharge on the outstanding bill and p ossible attachment of property to recover our payment as the law permits.
4. Page 4 of 9 3.4 Network Maintenance Where network maintenance works are plann ed, we shall inform the customers at least seven (7) days in advance. 3.5 Interruptions to water supply We may sometimes interrupt the water supply to repair leaks and bursts. When this happens, where practicable we shall give a 24 hours’ Notice to our c ustomers. 3.6 Service Connections Where our services exist, we commit to connect all applicants who meet our standard requirements. All paid up new connec tions shall be effected within fourteen ( 14 ) days and in circumstances where we are unable, we shal l notify the customer with the reason and give time when the work will be done. 3.7 New Connection Guidelin e s The following procedure shall apply for new applicants New connection forms shall be purchased for Le 10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Leones) at any of our offices. Our front desk officers are available to guide the customer to complete the forms The cus tomer will ensure the following: o Provide documentary proof of ownership of the propert y where the service is required o Provide recommendation letter fro m the land lord if the applicant is a tenant o Attach a pass port size photograph or a stamp on the forms in case of individual persons and corporate bodies respectively, o Obtain written permission from the owner if the connection pipes are to pass through an other person’s property. The customer shall then return the dul y filled application form with the required attachments to our offices. Every new service connection will attract a fee which is in accordance with the existing tariff. We shall provide every connection with a meter , the price of which will be included in the connection charge . New connections , recommendations and any repairs before the met e r will be effected by only authorised SALWACO staff.
8. Page 8 of 9 7 .2 Water Theft Please note that illegal connection to our network is a criminal offence and the offender will be punished under the SALWACO Act 2016. Illegal use or theft of wate r services will attract a fine as per the prevailing SALWACO tariff or a 6 year term in prison or both to the culprit . 8 .0 Our Obligation to our Customers, w e shall: Welcome all our customers with a smile all the time s Put the needs of the customer firs t – THE CUSTOMER IS KING Treat customers with courtesy, consideration and respect Listen and respond appropriately to all our customers Have qualified and supportive staff to deal with customer complaints Deal with all customer issues with efficiency, fair ness and integrity Provide customers with all the necessary possible information to solve their complaints Be as reliable, honest, and friendly beyond what our customers would like us to be. To each other as Colleagu es, we shall: Treat each other as part ners in the success of our business Listen to opinions from colleagu es for new ideas on how to improve our services Value and appreciate the contribution of every staff to the service of our customers Regard fellow staff as internal customers who must be t reated with respect, courtesy and honesty Create forums to share information Practice pro - active information sharing Give feedback to employees about their work performance Continually empower and develop staff through training To Customer Obligations T o facilitate the provision of the above services in a sustainable manner, we shall expect the following from our C ustomers : Pay your bills promptly Facilitate access to meters for our meter readers Raise complaints promptly
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