Residents of water-starved St Joseph, along with their parliamentary representative Dale Marshall, today expressed mixed emotions about actions being taken by the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to bring immediate relief.
BWA’s Communication Specialist Joyann Haigh has announced that the Authority has mobilized its fleet of tankers to distribute water to severely impacted communities.
“Starting today, September 23, and continuing daily, until the water supply is returned to normal in the higher elevations of Barbados, the tankers will be deployed from 5 a.m. to fill the community tanks, and from 8 a.m. to do door-to-door deliveries. So the 5 a.m. crew will be working from 5 a.m. until 8 a.m. and the door-to-door deliveries will start from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m,” Haigh said.
The communications specialist said that in addition to the BWA’s website, schedules, as well as updates, would be sent to radio stations, indicating where the tankers will be at specific times.
“. . . because we do not know how long each district will take, we are unable to say what time for the next district, hence the reason for the updates in between, so they will know when they are leaving one district and heading to the other,” she explained.
However, when a team from Barbados TODAY visited Horse Hill, Airy Hill, Branchbury, Andrews, Orange Cottage and other parts of the rural parish today, there was not a BWA tanker in sight.
Some residents also complained that the available tankers were empty.
As for the BWA’s new plans, the residents who did not want to be identified by name, said they were not sure they would bring about relief. Some charged that as it was now, “the tankers come when them feel like and don’t stop everywhere.
“I hope this works because right now them tankers does come when them please. And I don’t understand this thing that them will bring water to everybody door, because that don’t happen. So I am hoping these work because no water ain’t coming from the taps and St Joseph people can’t take it anymore,” one of the affected residents said.
Eighty-eight-year-old Millicent Thompson of Orange Cottage said she was tired “calling in there [BWA headquarters] all the time asking them to send me some water.
“Them don’t fill my cans and them does full the people next to me three cans. I does got seven buckets in my house and all of them does be empty. I ain’t able to carry no water,” Thompson said.
When contacted, Marshall, who recently joined his fed up constituents in a protest outside BWA’s headquarters, told Barbados TODAY he was pleased that the BWA was beginning to realize the importance of timely communication with the people affected. However, he said he does not think the Authority’s new proposal would solve the ongoing problem, even though it may be helpful to a certain extent.
However, Marshall argued that water should be supplied around-the-clock to affected residents and that tankers should be filled long before 5 a.m. to accommodate residents who were already preparing to go about their daily activities.
“I would like to see around-the-clock delivery. I don’t think that starting at five in the morning and finishing at ten is an appropriate response in these desperate circumstances.
“Difficult and desperate times calls for difficult and extraordinary solutions. The Water Authority has to look deeper and provide around-the-clock delivery system,” he stressed.
The Opposition Member of Parliament for St Joseph also stressed that in this technological age, BWA should not be depending solely on the radio to send out public service announcements. He said all elements of social media should be employed.