By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
With the near-citywide water service suspension now entering its second week (with no end in sight) and Mexico’s National Water Commission (Conagua) employees making personal fortunes by selling off tankers of potable water that are supposed to be provided free of charge by the government, Mexico City residents are up in arms and fighting mad.
Particularly affected are the residents of the Cuauhtémoc Precinct colonias of Condesa, Roma Norte and Roma Sur and in Colonia Juárez, where a 10.000-liter truckload of water is running as high 18,000 pesos, and even after purchasing the water, the truck drivers are demanding 1,000-peso “tips” to release the “purchase.”
Those who do not or cannot pay the exorbitant fees are simply left without access to any clean water.
There have also been unconfirmed reports of water tanker trucks being hijacked along the route to their deliveries by armed robbers.
Water service was cut off by Conagua for about 7.5 million residents of Mexico City and the State of Mexico (Edoméx) on Oct. 31 in order to conduct maintenance and repair work on the Cutzamala aqueduct that feeds the two entities.
At the time, Conagua said that all repairs would be completed by Nov. 3 and full service would be restored by Nov. 4, but, allegedly, the shutoff had to be extended because of a poorly installed part in the area of the aqueduct where repairs were made.
Meanwhile, Conagua officials continue to make excuses and offer vague promises to try to resolve the problem within 36 to 48 hours.
The fact that they and their tanker service personnel (as well as private water tanker companies that are obviously offering kickbacks to Conagua officials) are cashing in bigtime on residents’ desperation to get water at any price certainly does not provide an incentive for the repairs to be completely anytime soon.
We at Pulse News Mexico can only wonder whether there will be an additional “complication” in the Cutzamala aqueduct repairs in the days and weeks ahead, now that Conagua has found a new cash cow to cushion their Christmas bonuses by the extortion of potable water.