President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed has taken the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to task over what he describes as poor timing of its annual maintenance schedule at its Spring Garden plant.
This has resulted in a water shutdown, which mainly affected St Michael, St Thomas and St James communities.
However, Abed reported that it also took a toll on businesses in The City at time when many could least afford it. The Chamber president further complained that businesses were only given three days notice of the shutdown, which he said was hardly enough time for them to make any provisions for the day.
“What concerns me was the manner in which this was done. It was brought upon the public on Friday and the Chamber is concerned that if this was routine maintenance it could have been done from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., or even over a weekend.
“In fact, I think that if this was a routine maintenance it could have even been scheduled for January or February,” Abed told Barbados TODAY, while stating that it was important to have dialogue “so that those who are to be affected, and can make arrangements, would have the time to do so”.
On Friday, the BWA announced that Ionics Freshwater Ltd (commonly referred to as the Desalination Plant) on Spring Garden would be shutting down its operations from eight o’clock on Sunday night to ten o’clock on Monday night.
Speaking on behalf of the affected businesses, an upset Abed told Barbados TODAY the issue was not one to be taken slightly, suggesting that even the slightest interruption during the most profitable quarter of the year, could be detrimental to some businesses.
“It is building up to time when we are in the most busy Christmas season and as a stakeholder we were not invited into the decision making and I would hope in the future that the water authority would understand that they are tasked with providing for all who use their commodity.
“It really cast a dark shadow over a day that ordinarily should have run smoothly,” the businessman stressed.
“This Christmas season is extremely important for all commercial entities because it comes at the end of a very difficult year with all these additional taxes imposed. The spend by consumers is down and if businesses don’t get a good season it would add to the worsening situation in this country,” he said, adding that “sadly businesses are not concerned at this stage about making a profit, but rather which businesses will survive to 2018”.
Today, the Jubilee Gardens branch of Courts was forced to close its doors early because of the water outage, while officials at the Broad Street and Swan Street branches of the popular retail store complained of very low water pressure.
However, west coast hotels reported little disruption, so too students on the halls of residence at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, even though classes at the campus were called off today in anticipation of a possible water outage.