If Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite had his way, a number of heads would roll at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) over the sewage mess that has been impacting the south coast and parts of Bridgetown since last year.
Addressing a meeting of his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) at the Princess Margaret Secondary School last night, Brathwaite openly accused the BWA of negligence, while suggesting that managers at the statutory corporation should be sent home.
“You place the tourism sector at risk, you place people’s lives at risk and if you are fired. The union is going to keep noise. There is something wrong with that,” Brathwaite contended.
The representative for St Philip South argued that standards were on the decline at Government agencies, while singling out management at the BWA for particular mention.
“You need to punish them because they have placed this country at risk. One of the things we do badly in this country is . . . a significant failure of management. If it was the private sector, failure of management at that magnitude, you get fired,” Brathwaite emphasized.
His comments came on the heels of concerns expressed by a senior water management official that the south coast and Bridgetown sewage systems were on the brink of a disastrous collapse.
The official, who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, all but confirmed assertions by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley of faulty diffusers that had not been maintained in over seven years and that Government had ignored an offer from the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) to finance rehabilitation of both systems, and to build one for the west coast.
According to the source, the entire sewage outfall at the Bridgetown treatment plant was about to fall apart while the south coast plant, which was at the heart of a recent sewage mess due to stench emanating from effluent overflow, had already failed with untreated sewage now being pumped around the south coast plant and out to sea.
Complaining that the ruling DLP had become the cleanup crew for national issues, Brathwaite stood by the decisions made by his colleague, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick, under whose watch a shake-up of the BWA’s management team was recently announced.
The plan, which is yet to be fully implemented, will see to the removal of BWA General Manager Dr John Mwansa from the helm of the statutory corporation, as well as other key administrative changes.
However, in Estwick’s defence, Brathwaite said his colleague was not to blame for either the sewage problem or the recent water outages across the island.
“The problem wasn’t created by him as minister or by us as a Government, but by silence,” he said.
He insisted that “blame lies with the management of the Barbados Water Authority” and its failure over a number of years to address those issues, adding, “but we will have to deal with it”.