People living in and around the Cave Hill, St. Michael area in addition to students of the University of the West Indies have been finding it difficult to service basic needs due to unexpected water woes, as a result, council Members of the Guild of students have been scampering to find solutions to the problem.
For well over 24 hours, scores of people have been forced to find creative ways to access water for bathing, cooking and brushing their teeth. They have had to rely on the occasional assistance from Barbados Water Authority (BWA) personnel to get water to drink.
For hundreds of UWI students, particularly those living with dozens of their peers on the campus’ Halls of Residence, the experience has been disheartening and many say they feel neglected by the school’s administration.
In fact, Barbados TODAY has been reliably informed that up to two large water tanks on the Sherlock Hall for such an emergency were left leaving residents searching in vain for solutions to the challenges.
“There’s a reason why parents pay for students to come on campus. There is proper security and in times of crisis and in situations like water outages, we expect that these things would be dealt with. You cannot have a hall with a hundred or over a hundred students and there is no tank,” complained one resident who requested anonymity.
“You have everyone bathing outside trying to rush for water. It’s like the hunger games and survival of the fittest because you cannot use the toilet to defecate and girls who are menstruating will have challenges with cleanliness. We cannot cook, because we don’t trust the brown water coming down from the taps. Now we have to be rushing to get bottled water and in many places, the stores are out and you just feel uncomfortable, especially with exams around the corner. You are not at peace, because you want to study, but the fact that there is no water, you cannot focus and your life is stalled. This is unacceptable and I think that if it continues for another day, it will become a crisis and a major concern and they should really do something about it,” said the irate student.
President elect of the Guild of Students, Thacher Loutin said the school’s administration had been contacted and registrar, Kenneth Walters informed them that if the shortages persisted, they could go home. National Affairs Committee Chairperson of the guild, Ken Mason however argued that for hundreds of regional and international students, the solution was not so simple.
“As you can understand it is a very difficult situation for those who can’t go home. It is easy for me, because I am a Barbadian and I live in St Phillip, but there are some students who are somewhat trapped on campus with no water, so we are really trying to get the water truck to get through as much as possible,” said Mason, who successfully requested prompt deliveries of drinking water from the BWA.
In addition to Cave Hill, the outages have also reportedly affected Pleasant View, St Michael as well as West Terrace, Wanstead, Oxnards some sections of Prospect in St. James among other areas.
The outages stem from upgrades being conducted at the Desalination Plant by Ionics Freshwater Limited. On Thursday afternoon, the BWA released a statement informing residents that service would soon be restored to affected districts.
In light of the desperate situation, Guild President elect, Loutin took matters into her own hands, securing hundreds of dollars and mobilizing student leaders to provide drinking water for students in need.
In less than six hours, up to 270 students living on campus were provided with two 1.5 litre bottles of water each as she prepared to distribute to others living nearby.
“We distributed two to each and a total of 540 bottles of water plus a 750 litre bottle, because what students had to be doing was getting dirty barrels and cups to fill and while we know that the BWA would not distribute water that is not potable and that is not readily available to drink and because of the containers that students were using to catch the water, we deemed it very unsanitary.
“We went to Glacier Ice and to a private company which provided the water. We distributed to the two dorms, which are the Phillip Sherlock Hall and the Frank Worrell Hall. We also needed to bear in mind the students living off campus.
“There is no more money, but we’re still trying to find out who is willing to help and we contacted the registrar and they are trying to help, but I guess they are taking too long,” said Loutin.
Public relations officer at the UWI Cave Hill Chelston Lovell told Barbados TODAY that students had been informed of the water situation and what was causing it.
“Water was only available at Paradise Park, by the Graduate Studies department and at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex. The majority of the main campus, including the buildings across the street including the CARICOM building have no water. So people continued to work up until the situation became unbearable and then went home.
“Tankers have also been going up to the Halls of Residence because the BWA was specially asked to assist them as has happened in the past when water has been off up there,” he said.