TUNISIA – Tunisia through the National Office of Sanitation (Onas) is set to privatise waste water management in the country so as to improve on efficiency, Afrik21 has reported.

To ensure effective transition of waste water management from the public to private sector, Onas has launched a pilot project for the privatization program.

In the pilot phase, Onas intends to grant two concessions for wastewater management in the country.

The concessions will be for collective sanitation in Greater Tunis and in the governorates of Gabès, Médenine, Sfax and Tataouine.

In Greater Tunis, the concession will include a 1,240 km wastewater collection network serving 231,000 public service subscribers.

The operator who will be awarded this contract will be responsible for 52 pumping stations as well as a wastewater treatment plant capable of treating 40,000 m³ of wastewater per day.

The second and largest concession will be awarded for wastewater management in the governorates of Gabès, Médenine, Sfax and Tataouine.

The prospective operator will be in charge of a lot comprising 1,898 km of wastewater collection networks, 106 pumping stations and 14 wastewater treatment plants with a cumulative capacity of 137,000 m³ per day and serving more than 167,000 subscribers.

According to report by La Presse de Tunisie, the two contracts will include the initial upgrading and major maintenance-renewal (GER) work and also the operation and maintenance of the works.

The concessionaires will be required to define and carry out all the rehabilitation work of the sanitation facilities granted, as well as additional deodorization and disinfection work.

La Presse de Tunisie further indicated that the ESM (Environmentally Sound Management) works will be entirely financed by the Tunisian government.

Onas manages 17,500 km of wastewater collection network connected to 795 pumping stations and 122 wastewater treatment plants in Tunisia.

In July this year, the authority announced that it had plans to rehabilitate 10 wastewater treatment plants in the country to prevent pollution of the Mediterranean by sewage.

According to Onas,  the rehabilitation project, which is part of the Mediterranean Sea Programme (MedProgramme), targets waste water plants that are either saturated or close to saturation.

The MedProgramme was launched in June this year and spans across 10 countries bordering the Mediterranean including Tunisia, Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Montenegro and Turkey.

The programme has been allocated a $43 million grant (about 121 million Tunisian dinars) from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Maintenance of waste water treatment plants is key in efficient utilization of water which is a scarce resource in the North African country.

It however requires significant amount of resources which cannot be fully met by the Tunisian government through its authority for waste water management.

The contribution of the private sector could thus be decisive in the improvement of wastewater management in Tunisia.

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