No Electricity Payment, No Water
By Jesús Aguado
Neighbors from Misión de la Estación propose holding a demonstration to block the Libramiento Manuel Zavala if the local government does not solve their problem of lack of water.
To the angry residents of the neighborhood, the local administration proposed that all Sanmiguelenses would have to pay the electricity bill. The power is used at a pump that helps elevate potable water to a tank that then provides it to the houses in the area. The electric bill is paid to the Federal Commission of Electricity. The people in that neighborhood cannot or do not want to pay it. In addition to that amount, those who have benefited must pay the Water System (SAPASMA) for services, as well as the property tax and other services.
“We do have contracts for the water service, but we need certainty of receiving it”
Ulises Valenzuela, president of SAPASMA, told Atención that in early 2011, because the neighbors did not have water service and the infrastructure had not been given over to the local government by the developer (Corporativo Metropolitano), SAPASMA agreed to authorize water contracts for the neighbors of Misión. However, the water network, as well as the tank and the plot, were the property of the developer and the Fund for Housing of the Institute of Security and Social Services for Employees of the State (FOVISSSTE.) For that reason, the residents of the zone agreed to cover the electricity bills for the pump used for the overhead tank.
The bimonthly payment made by the neighbors to the CFE is on average 5,000 to 6,000 pesos, but sometimes not all the money is collected and the CFE cuts off the electricity until they pay for it. The neighbors are tired of the situation and have addressed the local administration for answers and for a solution to their problem. However, Valenzuela commented that for SAPASMA, it is impossible to pay for the electricity of a property that does not belong to them because they would not be able to justify that expense before an administrative review by the State Organism of Control. “It is as if I were paying the electricity bill for your house,” he said.
In the first week of July, the residents of Misión submitted a letter to the local administration showing their dissatisfaction with the potable water service. “We have had the same problem for three years, and every two months we live with the fear that the water service will again be cut off, and we do not know why,” stated the document. They also expressed that they have to use the services of water pipes to provide the service, “and it is very expensive. The water is a basic necessity, and our children do not deserve to deal with the stress caused by (lack of) it,” they wrote. After handing over the document with more than 100 signatures to the administration, the residents gave a copy to Atención and threatened to block the Libramiento.
Failures in handing over the housing development
Misión de la Estación is situated next to the INFONAVIT Malanquín and has 232 houses that were given to teachers and employees of the health sector in 2011. Édgar Bautista, local director of the Urban Development Department, stated that Corporativo Metropolitano started construction of the development in early 2000. FOVISSSTE gave financial resources to the company for the construction, and those who would benefit gave money in advance to Corporativo Metropolitano. Due to problems with FOVISSSTE and financial problems, Corporativo Metropolitano stopped construction in 2002, and the neighborhood remained abandoned for a few years.
Due to the abandonment of the construction project, an association—promoted by Corporativo Metropolitano—was formed to financially recover the future Misión de la Estación, and in 2004, the project continued. The new neighborhood was to have its own well, which was drilled on the other side of the road, but it remained open for years and dried up. Because of this, Corporativo Metropolitano constructed an overhead tank that would conduct the water from a well in Las Brisas to the houses.
According to Director Bautista, the problems have been there since the construction’s start, but the biggest problem came when the 2009-2012 administration, headed by Luz María Núñez Flores, decided to give the property documents to the developers so they could finally give the houses to the beneficiaries.
It was legal requirement that Corporativo Metropolitano and FOVISSSTE had to hand over the neighborhood to the local administration. Because they did not do so, the current administration does not have the legal documents for green areas and spaces for common use—like where the tank was constructed—or streets. And as if that were not enough, Corporativo and FOVISSSTE did not pay the administration the 1,196,425.78 pesos for “water rights.”
Since then, the residents of that area have been dealing with several problems: lack of water and public lighting, and insecurity. A document delivered to Atención also stated that they have been victims of robbery in their own area due to the lack of public lighting, although they are paying CFE. “If you come at night, you will find a ghost neighborhood; it is so dark,” said one of the inhabitants.
Sanmiguelenses would pay the electricity
Édgar Bautista highlighted that the Urban Development Department has had eight meetings in a row—at which members of Misión de la Estación have been present—with the authorities from FOVISSSTE to request they hand over the development, but the answer is that “there is no money to pay for it.”
In a meeting of directors of the administration, they gave ideas for solving the problem. One of the ideas was that the local administration would pay the electricity bills. That solution was given to the residents. They of course accepted the deal.
Is it fair that all Sanmiguelenses have to pay for their electricity through taxes? Is the solution offered just to avoid having the road blocked until this administration is over, and the new administration inherits the problem? We questioned Bautista. He answered that it was not to avoid the blockade, but to solve the problem because “the water topic is fundamental.” He made it clear that it is not yet a fact that the government will pay for it. It is just a proposal: “We have to find out if there is money to do it.”
There will be a meeting with representatives of FOVISSSTE this week, assured the Director Bautista, from which a solution will have to emerge.
“We will give deadlines to the local administration and FOVISSSTE to provide us with an answer,” commented representatives of Misión, “and if for any reason the solution gets stuck, we will hold demonstrations and will block the Libramiento.”
Blocking the road is not a solution. That is illegal, the director remarked. If that happens, the problem will have to be solved by the Secretariat of Communication and Transportation, the FOVISSSTE, and the local government. “We have to try our best to solve the conflict,” finished Bautista.