Canadian government official Marc Parisien threw diplomacy aside this week to reveal at a public event – the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon – some interesting and startling information.
It seems Government’s planned $40 million reverse osmosis project has failed to get off the ground for reasons unknown to the sponsors, who, based on Parisien’s public lament, are simply fed up with the official run around.
However, for anyone familiar with this administration’s modus operandi; be it on water, waste, Cahill, Hyatt, crime or health issues for that matter, run around should come as anything but a surprise.
Just ask the people of St Peter, St Joseph, St Andrew, St Thomas and St John who have been crying rivers of woe over dry pipes for weeks now, while farm animals are dying of thirst and agricultural farms are parched, and a reverse osmosis project in the Belle, St Michael, dating back to 2008, seems lost in the valley of death.
Thankfully, no lives have so far been lost.
But worryingly though, the Canadian diplomat disclosed that only 30 per cent of the island’s water is drinkable and the pollution level is rising rapidly.
No wonder Minister of Water Resource Dr David Estwick was at pains to point out today that Barbados can no longer rely on rainfall and ground water to meet the needs of its growing population numbering 265,000 plus.
It is therefore left to be seen what will flow from his announcement of a “Rapid Response Unit” at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to address water outages and leakages, communicate with the public, and deploy and fill community water tankers; as well as a new hire purchase system that would allow Barbadians — initially in the water-starved parishes of St Peter, St Joseph, St Andrew, St Thomas and St John — to acquire a complete water tanker system for a nominal charge over a five year period.
We can only hope that this is not yet another case of ‘reverse osmosis’ announced by the minister.
However, there is no escaping the fact that the overall handling of the water crisis – as well as many of the other critical issues – is reminiscent of King Ralph, the 1991 American comedy film starring John Goodman as Ralph Jones.
In the movie, Ralph, an American, becomes King of England unexpectedly after the entire royal family is electrocuted in a freak accident while posing for a family photograph, and a researcher discovered that he was the only living heir to the throne.
It was not long before he realized that he was not fit to be king so Ralph told the British people they deserved a better monarch and abdicated.
Already there is a proposal to deal with one of the major headaches facing the country – that of the exploding colostomy bag that is the garbage situation. While the Freundel Stuart administration has come up with a plan to work with private waste haulers, a King Ralph of a different caste has emerged – one who has a history of success – with his own proposal to take over the running of the sanitation service.
It leaves us to wonder if the same will happen with health, crime, transport, etc? And if our version of King Ralph, will be granted influence over the police so he could “lock up a few people” as desired.
Heaven help us all!