It’s a national crisis that requires a national solution.
That’s how Opposition Leader Mia Mottley today summed up the current water outages plaguing northern and eastern sections of the island shortly.
Her comments came after witnessing two residents of St Joseph hand over a letter registering concern about the situation to acting General Manager of the Barbados Water Authority, Dr John Mwansa, at the BWA’s Pine, St Michael headquarters.
Speaking to reporters on the steps of the new multi-million dollar building, the St Michael North East MP stressed that she has been deliberate in her comments that the water problem must not be seen as a partisan issue.
“I genuinely want the residents to have their stories told. There were stories that came out of the community meeting in Boscobel, [St Peter] on Thursday night where calls made to the BWA went unanswered.
“What makes me fearful is that should there be any negative development in respect of public health or security while there are currently two “Barbadoses” as it relates to water distribution in the island, they would affect one Barbados,” Mottley said.
“The current water outages requires a national plan and the Barbados Labour Party will play its part in encouraging everybody to get on board and play their part. Our fate is bound up together.”
The Opposition Leader told reporters that her letter warned the management of the BWA that their actions not only adversely affected the hygiene and health of ordinary citizens, but also the livelihoods of small farmers and businesses across northern and eastern sections of Barbados.
She also contended that one had to live through the experience of not having access to water to understand the anguish and anxiety.
“The people who are not experiencing the outages, the people who are not in the north and east who are not experiencing these chronic water outages, simply have no clue how the lives of tens of thousands of Barbadians are being affected.
“It concerns me that the absence of that appreciation allows for business as usual both in terms of the execution of a response and the planning out of additional programmes,” she complained.
Mottley argued that if an observer appreciated the anguish the affected residents experience on a daily basis, they would want to see a 24 hour work day at the BWA in terms of the distribution of water and the repairing of mains.
“If you appreciated the anguish of a mother who has challenges now in being able to cook food for her family or to wash clothes and get the school clothes ready for the children to go to school, you would understand why even though the community tanks play a critical role, they are insufficient to meet the needs of the community,” the Opposition Leader explained.
Voicing her concern over the situation, Lindsay Payne of Newton Crescent, Bissex, St Joseph told reporters: “I came here this morning because this issue is very important to me. By 5 o’clock this morning, I was in St Andrew looking for water so that I could be here. As I speak I have only two buckets of drinking water at home. This problem has been going on for the past 30 years. Some of the children of my district could not attend school this morning.”
Jacqueline Wilkinkson of Lammings Park, St Joseph, was adamant that she would not be paying any more water bills since her household did not benefit from the service. She complained that she sometimes had to travel to St Michael to do her laundry.
“I have three grandsons at home without water. There are shut-ins in St Joseph who are unable to get water. I visited my mother in Barbarees Hill, St Michael, to do my washing. I also visited St Philip to do my washing and I am fed up. We need some help in St Joseph,” Wilkinson said.
Collene Badal of Boscobel, St Peter, told reporters that her district has been experiencing water outages as far back as May last year when a neighbour’s house was destroyed by fire because of a lack of water.
“The BWA is still sending me bills although I do not get any water. It is outrageous. I want to be able to use my toilet instead of lifting buckets of water to flush it. We cannot wash our hands properly when we use the bathroom,” Badal said.
Expressing similar concern, Carol Boyce-Knight of Boscobel, St Peter, said: “I cannot lift water so I have to use my car to go as far as Speightstown to fetch water. This is taking a toll on my car. I now have to buy water to drink. The situation is affecting me financially, emotionally, spiritually and even my health.”