Opposition Leader Mia Mottley yesterday questioned the wisdom of Government spending $63 million on a new headquarters building for the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).
She also charged that Government was paying $4 million in legal fees to an attorney-at-law for work done on the BWA headquarters, while estimating that a quarter of the population could not be guaranteed a bath if they were planning to attend next week’s official launch of the island’s 50th anniversary of independence celebrations in Independence Square, The City.
The St Michael North East MP contended that water was so critical to human existence that a lack of it could become a major security issue.
She was speaking to reporters at the end of a tour of water-starved northern and central communities, which have been experiencing outages in recent weeks and months.
Mottley was accompanied by Opposition MPS Dale Marshall, Cynthia Forde and Trevor Prescod, as well as BLP candidates Collin Jordan and Peter Phillips.
From Dunscombe Hill, St Thomas to as far north as Collins and Date Tree Hill, St Peter, the complaint was the same today – dry taps.
One frustrated resident complained that “water only comes on briefly at the end of the month when meters are to be read and bills are due”.
While at Collins, St Peter, the BLP candidate for the area, Colin Jordan, identified a footpath of well over 2 000 metres which he said the elderly of Date Tree Hiil had to traverse in order to fetch water from the community tank.
At Dunscombe Hill, St Thomas, Reuben Edwards, who lives alone, complained that the area had been having problems with water for the past four or five weeks and the situation was getting worse.
“There is no water today. . . . [in fact] I spent a horrible Christmas because there was no water on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” he said.
Fortunately for him however, the water returned if only for a couple hours yesterday, but Edwards said he had not seen a tanker in Dunscombe since their water problems began.
“Residents of Canefield and on Dunscombe main road are also experiencing the same problem. My mother, who is 93 years and lives on the main road, had to do without water last night,” he complained.
Melvin Dyal, who lives at Canefield,St Thomas, told reporters that the situation was so bad that he had to travel to the abandoned fire station at Arch Hall, St Thomas to take a bath.
Voicing similar frustration to that expressed by Edwards, Dyal said: “There was a time when I used to seek shelter from the rain, but now I have to go in the rain to bathe.
“This situation has pushed the country to a bygone period. It is not good enough,” he said, revealing that last Tuesday he was forced to make his way to Folkstone Beach in St James to get a sea bath.
He too has been utilizing the Arch Hall Fire station for bathing, while the female members of his household have had to bathe in a pan.
“Do you know what it is to bathe in a pan? I thought those days were over, but it appears they have returned,” Dyal said.
Over at Chimborazo, St Joseph, popular entertainer Antonio “Boo” Husbands was livid over the fact that he had to live without potable water for extended periods.
He charged discrimination on the part of BWA staff, saying he had witnessed one driver visiting the nearby plantation house for over 20 minutes and then leaving the district without servicing the needs of the less fortunate members of the community.
Warning that a scarcity of water could lead to a disturbance, Husbands said: “Do you understand what could happen if a community tank contains five gallons of water and 30 residents come to fetch some? Those who were unable to access some could become angry and strike out at the more fortunate ones.”
And so incensed was the St Joseph representative Marshall, he told reporters he was not looking forward to the 50th anniversary celebrations because he felt that instead of moving forward, Barbadians have been taken 50 years into the past.