Two days after contracting company Innotech Services Limited uprooted the community water tanks it had leased to the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) over millions owed by the utility company, members of corporate Barbados today started pouring in donations of replacement tanks and other materials.
It is understood that the state-owned BWA owes Innotech some $18 million accumulated over a 14-month period for the provision of various services, including arrears for the tanks which are leased at $51,000 per month for five years and rental of the headquarters building in the Pine for $1 million a month for 15 years.
Chairperson of the BWA Leodean Worrell told a news conference this afternoon she was unusually lost for words to see the overwhelming generosity of Barbadians who had come to the rescue of the residents of water-scarce St Joseph, St Andrew, St John and St Thomas who have been deprived of access to potable water supplies.
Unofficial spokesman for corporate Barbados and businessman Hallam Nicholls, who was present at the news conference assured chairperson Worrell, BWA general manager Keithroy Halliday and board member Andrew Dickson that whatever the BWA needs would be supplied.
“Yesterday when we got the news that these tanks had been taken, we immediately sprung into action. With me today is Mark Roach from Williams Industries and many other businessmen. They called me to say, look, we want to help. I understand there are 104 tanks owned by Innotech that are leased to the water authority. What I can tell you that all of the tanks or more will be supplied by corporate Barbados. All,” Nicholls declared.
He revealed that Mark Maloney, head of construction firm Preconco will supply the concrete for the base on which the tanks must be placed.
He said that construction magnate Sir Charles Williams, who is in Argentina called him to pledge his support.
“There are too many to mention. But what I can say to you is that whatever the water authority needs to combat this situation will be achieved with the help of corporate Barbados. I think is very unfortunate. As a matter of fact, I am prepared to say it is unpatriotic of Innotech and also insensitive for them at this time, having been the recipient of many contracts from the BWA, to take this action,” the businessman added.
Roach, a director of Williams Industries and a top official of sister company H&B Hardware, told the news conference they donated four tanks yesterday and another 12 today. Roach, too, echoed the sentiments of Nicholls regarding the actions of Innotech.
“As Mr Nicholls has just said, we realize that this is a very insensitive decision by the people at Innotech. We just felt we had to step forward and I am sure that’s the view of many other people in corporate Barbados,” Roach said.
Paul Bridgeman, who represented Jose y Jose Liquid, Solid Waste Management Inc and Project Recycle pledged five water tanks, while Chris Maloney of Automotive Art said his company was giving 12.
Like several of his business colleagues, Maloney suggested that the removal of the tanks left a bad taste in the mouth of many.
“Barbados is not the place for any of our people to be so disadvantaged, that the safety supply and emergency access to water is not available to them, Christmas of otherwise. Automotive Art is here to pledge its support…we can pledge 10, 11, 12 tanks to the cause,” he assured.
President of the Senate and legal luminary Sir Richard Cheltenham was also at the news conference with a cheque to buy five tanks.
“The people who are directly impacted by this are people who I have represented for nearly 15 years as their Member of Parliament for the people of St Joseph…some in St Thomas, some in St Andrew, some in St John. All of those areas form part of the constituency of St Joseph, because it is below the average of constituencies in the country,” said Sir Richard.
He said he would be “very” unhappy to know he was enjoying his Christmas and these people could not have access to basic amenities such as water.
But the support for the state-owned water company did not only come from outside, but within as well.
Flanked by members of the BWA’s division of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), spokesman for the employees and president of the division Carl Boyce said they were contributing two tanks.
“The staff at the BWA and the BWU through its executive council and our general secretary, we all are onboard in this gesture. And we, both in the union and as staff, are putting out money where our mouths are and we are donating two tanks to help with this exercise, because we also have members of staff in those areas,” Boyce said.
While not providing a date, BWA chairperson Worrell informed reporters that the new tanks will be in place as soon as possible. (EJ)