LA PAZ, Bolivia, Oct. 23 The Bolivian
government announced on Monday that French water services
company Suez will end its operations in the South American
country by the end of the year.
"We estimate that by December 31, the service would be
transferred (from Suez to a new state-owned water company),"
said Alvaro Camacho, Bolivia's superintendent of water and
sewage systems, according to the state news agency ABI.
Last week, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Aguas del
Illimani, controlled by France's Suez LYOE.PA, will not be
expropriated, but did not specify under what terms the French
company would let its Bolivian subsidiary go.
"We hope to quickly sign an agreement to put an end to the
contract so we can open a transition process," Aguas del
Illimani Director Antoine Kuhn told reporters.
Kuhn said Aguas del Illimani executives will meet on Nov. 9
to talk about the Bolivian government's proposal to end the
Water minister Abel Mamani told Reuters last week the
government would need investments worth $35 million in the next
five years to replace Aguas del Illimani with a new state-owned
Since January, the government has said it hopes to reach an
amicable settlement in its dispute with Suez over its water and
sewage management business in the capital La Paz and
neighboring El Alto.
The government's drive to cancel the Aguas del Illimani
contract follows massive demonstrations in El Alto, a satellite
city of La Paz, four years ago against the French-controlled
company, saying it was overcharging customers and failing to
invest enough to expand water services to poor neighborhoods.
Suez itself has long sought an exit from Bolivia, but an
agreement has been delayed by disputes over the conditions
under which the contract can be canceled.