It is quite manifest now that the majority of Barbadians have had enough of the political bickering we have been saddled with in recent times, and that there is a thirst for our leaders “working together” towards a solution on the most critical matters we face.
Of course, this is not suggestive of any notion that our electorate will not expect strong differences of political opinion to be held on either partisan side; but not to the extent that it clouds resolution to issues in need of urgent attention, and boorishly inhibits the supportive participation of such as the Social Partners and other national entities.
Indeed, the recent prolonged verbal toing and froing and virtual inaction in the vital matter of water outage and deficiency in the more northern parishes of a country once noted to be among the fastest developing small-state nations in the world were nothing short of regrettable and dispiriting –– and worthy of condemnation.
And so, it was redeeming to some extent when Minister of Water Resources Dr David Estwick finally determined he would speak to the nation, via a Press conference this week, on the inconvenience, frustration and indignity suffered by Barbadian residents who have had to go without water for varying untenable lengths of time, and offer some “factual” explanation of cause and a plan of remedy. Understandably, though unfortunately, some of the disheartened and embittered water woes victims have denied seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. Truth be told, Dr Estwick himself, by his manner, would have contributed to this.
Yes, our Government ministers have that critical role of informing us of the national state of affairs –– no matter how unpleasant –– and of encouraging us all to do our bit in helping them and their public officers towards resolution; but not in adversarial and belligerent tones. For all the pit bull feature and fame Dr Estwick seemingly bears easily on his broad back, barking at the populace –– in particular those expectant Barbadians whose lives have been disrupted by lack of potable water –– on the airwaves showed a lack of sensitivity and common sense.
The grieving and hurt people required to be told sedately, sympathetically and reassuringly –– and we aver apologetically –– why the Minister of Water Resources was unable to deal with the matter expeditiously and how intent he was on making good with his short- and long-term plans. After all, it was people whom Dr Estwick was addressing; not the dogs, sheep and pigs who too were suffering acute thirst.
On this note, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley must be applauded for circumventing the issue of the bellicoseness of Dr Estwick –– for which she could have scored some political mileage –– to thank him publicly for pronouncing on the medium and long-term plans to be undertaken by his ministry and the Barbados Water Authority (BWA). Miss Mottley would only mildly disapprove of the minister’s confusing representation with partisan politics.
Indeed, there would be nothing to gain by the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party being in any prolonged public fight over the potable water challenge while the thirsts of rural residents remained unquenched and
their personal hygiene compromised.
And, like Ms Mottley, we are thankful, going by Dr Estwick’s word, the Barbados Water Authority will urgently seek out interest in and initiate the building of two desalination plants in the north, and establish a national water policy. We too look to some permanency in these structures eventually.
Of course, while such bigger plans are being implemented, the dislocated residents of St Thomas, St Andrew, St John, St Joseph, St Peter and St Lucy still require immediate temporary relief. In particular, the aged, disabled and infirm who are the worst disadvantaged when it comes to lifting and handling containers of water to their homes will be in dire need of assistance from family, neighbours and the BWA. Maybe, privare social agencies can be of assistance.
As well, BWA water tankers ought to be deployed around the clock –– for both the domestic and commercial place.
One thing though that will bring a smile to the faces of rattled residents is the promised consideration of refunding payments made to the BWA for a water service not received. It is but just, really.
Yes, we do need unity and understanding –– not the partisan fighting –– on this national water issue of ours. We must assurededly, if indeed Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will live to see Barbados as the best place in the world to live.
We will add only Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
–– Ephesians 6:10 to 12.