Bolivia pulls plug on French water plant

12th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

LA PAZ, Jan 11 (AFP) - Bolivian authorities Tuesday revoked the concession of a French-owned firm to operate a water plant in the city of El Alto amid tensions caused by a general strike.

LA PAZ, Jan 11 (AFP) - Bolivian authorities Tuesday revoked the concession of a French-owned firm to operate a water plant in the city of El Alto amid tensions caused by a general strike.

"The government has determined for various technical and legal reasons that Aguas del Illimani has to go," said La Paz provincial Governor Nicholas Quenta.

In a letter to the strikers, authorities said the administration of President Carlos Mesa would begin to close down the company's operations, both in El Alto and the capital of La Paz.

Earlier, the government deployed soldiers around a dam and other water treatment facilities run by Aguas del Illimani, a subsidiary of major French firm Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux.

The strikers wanted the firm forced to stop operating in the city of 800,000 people.

Authorities have also put troops on guard outside other Aguas del Illimani facilities, including a dam and water treatment plant.

El Alto has been crippled by a general strike since Monday. Local groups have accused the water company of demanding high prices without making proper investment.

Aguas del Illimani had offered to hold negotiations and review its investment in the city.

Government vice minister Carlos Agrega said an occupation of the water plant had to be avoided. "We would fall into the trap of those who say that in Bolivia, there is a climate of troubles and that investors are not respected," he said.

A meeting of the El Alto groups was to be held later to possibly decide more radical action. Troubles in the city in 2003 led to the resignation of former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

Meanwhile, the unrest prompted the Chilean government to recommend its nationals avoid traveling to Bolivia for now.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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