Don’t play politics with people’s lives!
This was the stern warning issued by Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick today in response to a strong call made yesterday by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) for affected residents and businesses along the south coast to take the state-run Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to court over losses incurred over the past year, as a result of a persistent sewage leaks.
During a tour of some of the worse-affected parts of Worthings, Queen’s Counsel Ralph Thorne, who is the BLP candidate for Christ Church South, freely dished out the legal advice, while his colleagues Dr William Duguid and Wilfred Abrahams warned that the worsening stench was a national health and environmental hazard waiting to happen.
However, speaking to Barbados TODAY outside Parliament this morning, Estwick, who has direct responsibility for the BWA and has been charged with coming up with a lasting fix to the sewage problem, today accused the BLP of preying on the frustrations of businesses and residents in an effort to score cheap political points ahead of the next general election.
Responding to threats of legal action, Estwick cautioned that this “would solve nothing”, while warning that the BLP was embarking on a “dangerous game of finger pointing when there was plenty of blame to go around on both sides” in terms of the sordid mess.
“It is unfortunate that political games continue to play,” Estwick told Barbados TODAY while making it clear that as a trained physician “I don’t mess around or play with people’s lives or their livelihood”.
However, he said what was most dangerous about what BLP was attempting to do was that “they are casting blame”, even though he suggested that they would first have to point the accusing finger at themselves for not having the foresight 20 years ago to build a sewage plant that was capable of handling the current sewage load.
“The first thing I would tell them is that they should have built a tertiary plant from the first time and not build a plant that is only primary and sending sewage out to the ocean,” he said, adding that “there are also a whole lot of other things that I have to say, but now is not the right time.
“So I am not going to get involved in pointing fingers. I can tell you that I have all the files on all of the mistakes to point to where so many people who were brought in as contractors were fired. But what purpose does that serve to rehash those sort of things when the problem is sitting in your lap?” he said, in taking responsibility for the current problems.
With the awful stench of sewage ever present, and strong signs of overflows still visible in patches along the streets, Estwick also reiterated his call for residents and businesses to exercise patience, while assuring that Government understood the urgency of the situation.
However, he said the authorities remained restrained by the complexities and scale of the problem. He also revealed a technical support team from outside had arrived in Barbados to begin diagnostics.
“These are big jobs and people need to understand that it is not that we are procrastinating, but it is because you have to do it right and make sure that you have applied the correct diagnostics and correct technology,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“We have a team of persons that came in today that have the experience of dealing with similar problems in Trinidad and Tobago. I know the technical persons have also been in contact with persons from Europe and the United States so that we could apply the technology now. It can’t be no guessing game now because once we go to repair and replace we have to know for sure,” he stressed.