Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has repeated an earlier assertion that the water problems facing several parishes in the north and east of the island place the country’s national security and stability at risk.
And she again accused Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of failing to provide leadership on the issue.
Just last week during a tour of water-starved northern and central communities which have been experiencing outages in recent weeks and months, 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.
And speaking last night at a town hall meeting at St Bernard’s Primary School in Lammings, St Joseph, where residents aired their concerns about the situation, Mottley expanded on her previous claim.
“This water scarcity affects . . . stability, national security, public health. There are too many issues affected, and the [Barbados] Water Authority has no jurisdiction to deal with all of those issues, but the Prime Minister of Barbados and the Cabinet. This is a national crisis that commands national leadership,” she said.
During last night’s meeting organized by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), residents expressed frustration at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) for the long running problem, with some complaining that they were left without running water for up to 28 days during the Christmas season.
The Opposition Leader called on Government to find a workable short-term resolution and follow it up with medium to long-term reliable and sustainable access to water. She suggested this could be achieved in several ways, including water augmentation, desalination, further replacement of the mains and an additional reservoir on the border of St Thomas and St Joseph.
“This is not a Water Authority issue, this is a water issue affecting more than one in every four Barbadians across this country,” she said.
The BLP leader admitted that some of the country’s water problems preceded the Stuart administration, saying that some of the problems that existed eight years ago when the BLP was defeated at the polls, continued to this day.
She spoke of the Public Sector Investment Programme which sets out Government’s priorities, one of which was at least $1 billion to deal with the water issues brought to the then BLP Government’s attention in 2007.
“Whatever else the country has to spend money on, know that you have to take care of that water set of projects first . . . .This is not a Water Authority problem, don’t fool yourselves. This is an issue of national priorities,” Mottley stressed.
In this regard, the Opposition Leader attacked what she said was the DLP administration’s main concerns.
“You do not spend $30 million to build a building that has been sitting idle and closed for 16 months with bush two, three feet high . . . and the building is closed down,” she said in reference to the unoccupied Grotto apartments.
“You do not decide to build a Water Authority headquarters, or to pay one lawyer $4 million for work on that headquarters building.”
She spoke of the Prime Minister’s recent report to Parliament on the historic Climate Change agreement in Paris, which she said she supported, “at the same time he must speak to the people of St Joseph, St Thomas, St Lucy, St Andrew”.