In an apparent escalation of action in an attempt to recoup outstanding monies owed by the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), Innotech today moved to take control of several community tanks leased to the state-owned water company, BWA General Manager Keithroy Halliday has charged. This all happened on a day when the authority made a payment of an undisclosed amount to Innotech.
Barbados TODAY also understands that efforts were being made at the highest level to resolve the matter up to late this evening.
Speaking on the removal of the tanks, Halliday said “I was in meetings all day at Parliament during which time I was made aware that Innotech was in process of removing community tanks from critical water-scarce areas such as St Joseph, St Andrew and St John to name a few. I can confirm that no one from Innotech contacted the BWA to advise that this was going to take place.”
The BWA general manager told Barbados TODAY that he contacted Innotech Chairman Anthony Da Silva, who revealed that the equipment in question was being sold off because his company needed the cash.
“I contacted Mr Anthony Da Silva, who subsequently called me back and I questioned him on the matter. He indicated to me that my understanding was correct and that the group of companies is cash-strapped and that they had to resort to selling assets like the community tanks and pumps to secure cash,” Halliday reported, adding that the chairman suggested to him that neither the BWA nor the Government was being responsive to their request for payment.
Conveying shock at the development, BWA chairman Leodeane Worrell revealed that only today that the BWA had made a “good faith” payment to Innotech. However, Worrell did not reveal the amount that was paid nor what was still owed. It is also not clear whether the payment was made before or after the action was taken by Innotech.
“We were shocked when we learnt that the community tanks that we rent from Innotech were either, removed, emptied or made inoperable. We at the BWA were not even given the courtesy of a call,” said Worrell, who laid the blame of some “unconscionable contracts” at the feet of the former Democratic Labour Party administration.
According to Worrell several attempts were made to bring Innotech to the negotiation table in recent times but to no avail.
“The board, the minister [Wilfred Abrahams], the financial advisors to the Government have sought to re-negotiate the contracts in recognition that there is a need for balance. We are not saying that we are walking away from contracts, we just want to re-negotiate the terms because there is a balance that needs to be struck. But the Innotech Group of Companies refused to come to the table except on their terms and this is nothing short of reprehensible conduct,” said Worrell.
The outspoken BWA Chairman assured the public that “under no circumstances would the current board of directors allow the BWA and the people of Barbados to be held hostage by any entity regardless of how many contracts they have with the BWA and how much power they would have wielded in the past.”
Barbados TODAY contacted Da Silva, who made it clear that he had no comment on the matter.
Over the weekend it was reported that staff of the BWA could be locked out of their Pine, St Michael headquarters because of outstanding lease payments due to Innotech Aquaserve Ltd, landlords for the $44 million complex.