With dry taps most days, withering crops, and fears of losing livestock, White Hill, St Andrew residents are fuming over what they describe as a blatant disregard for human life by local authorities.
They complain that the ongoing water woes seemed to be getting worse, with even fewer days of having water in their taps and sporadic filling of the three community tanks in the area.
This has prompted community spokeswoman Carlitha Andrews to call for an urgent meeting with the new Minister of Water Resources Ian Gooding-Edghill and his junior minister Charles Griffith, as well as officials from the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).
“I was calling for a townhall meeting since [Wilfred] Abrahams was the minister. They are very disrespectful to the people of White Hill,” said Andrews, explaining that even though she was asked to write a letter, which she hand delivered, no acknowledgement has so far been made.
“I don’t even think the letter has been read. They probably throw it in the garbage,” she added.
“I want a town hall meeting. I want the minister to meet with us. I have confidence in this new minister and I want him to come up here and see the distance the people have to traverse with water, and there are ladies only in some of the houses. So it is difficult. I can’t lift up any water,” said Andrews.
“You have to be calling them and begging them to fill these community tanks,” she said.
“They telling me to wash my hands, and especially with this COVID-19 pandemic, what am I going to wash it with if the taps not running?” she said.
Some residents complained that they were being grossly inconvenienced as a result of the water outages, and to make matters worse, they are now faced with added expenses of having to take their laundry to a laundromat, having to buy water for cooking and buying disposable kitchen utensils.
“We are poor people. I have had enough. We have had enough,” said one woman.
“I can’t cook. I went to the supermarket last Friday evening and I had to buy takeout containers because you can’t wash the wares even if you get to cook. I have wares in the sink that want washing, the floor want mopping, the clothes want washing, but I can’t because there is no water,” said Andrews.
“For you to get some water you have to be paying somebody to go drive and go get some water for you. The Barbados Water Authority is putting us in extra expenses. If you want your clothes wash you got to take it to the laundromat. So you still paying the Barbados Water Authority and paying the laundromat. That is not fair,” she added.
Andrews said she believed if she was not calling the BWA begging for a water tanker the community would be without water far longer than they currently have to bear.
“If you know we have a low reservoir why don’t you send out a tanker. They don’t care! I had to call to get a little water. When the water came my brother only got four buckets of water for me,” she said, explaining that once the water was put in the tanks it would be used up within a couple days.
“It shouldn’t be like that and people are paying a bill,” she said.
She questioned the reasoning behind the water outages, insisting that pumps breaking down or low water pressure should not be used as an excuse.
“Why the other pumps don’t break down? It is always one specific area that the reservoir low. We are tired of it. We want water. In this day and age nobody should be lining up to get water from a tanker,” insisted Andrews.
“If you are having water troubles it should be throughout the country. You don’t hear Christ Church people, you don’t hear St Michael people, and you don’t hear the people in the hotel belt complaining about water issues,” she argued.
She said she was saddened that officials were not even visiting the location to get a clearer understanding of what is confronting the residents.
“I have had enough of this foolishness,” she added.
Adding that people in the rural district may have to consider going back to using “outside toilets” because of the inconsistent supply.
Residents also complained that they were now losing crops and animals because they were unable to provide them with the precious commodity.
“The animals got to die out because we don’t have any water,” said one resident.
“The pigs and chickens we will have to give up. You know how the country people love to raise their own livestock, but we can’t afford that luxury anymore. What they expect us to do and times so hard? You can’t even plant your little garden bed. All of that has now been taken away from us. We want water in our pipes,” she added.