I recall some of the many fights I got into as a child growing up in the early 1960s in what was once considered “the country.” Many of these fights occurred near the “standpipe” where we fought over whose turn it was to full our buckets and pitch-oil tins. Those were the days of “toting” water, sometimes on our heads, sometimes in box-carts.
Sometimes, too, we looked on helplessly as the water pressure disappeared before our very eyes.
Fast forward to some 60 years and two oil booms later, with technological advances beyond our wildest imagination. Citizens are still falling victims to the massive incompetence which passes for governance by the powers-that-be, be they red and/or yellow.
The promise of “water for all” has come and gone like a thief in the night. The building boom which accompanied the oil booms made our demands for this precious commodity even greater.
That billions of dollars have been spent on an island—surrounded, by definition, by water—where half the nation goes for half of the year with no water and no one in authority seems alarmed must be cause for concern.
That the Minister of Public Utilities can come and tell the nation that “there is no water shortage” while the people at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) acknowledge that the ‘country’s water sources have been impacted by the dry season’ is a clear indication that Mr Hinds is as clueless as his other colleagues.
To quote a friend: Fire yourself, Hinds!
I have always found it ironic that for about half the year we suffer from a lack of water while for the other half we suffer from excess of it, floods. But then, can we realistically expect anything different from an organisation which is known by all to await the paving of a road before they come digging to lay pipelines?
This organisation also saw several fires occurring in the same part of their building in recent times. The burned-out section—certainly a coincidence!—happens to be the area where the accounting records are/were stored. And this dysfunctional organisation reminded us that they are responsible for all the waters in the nation. As such, they imposed a tax on farmers who use river and ravine water to water their crops.
This is the same organisation which, despite their billions of man-hours experience in road damage has to return a handful of times to fix a single leak and can never properly repair the roadways.
For the record, I am no rocket scientist. However, it does not take rocket science to recognise that there are many options on the market to desalinate water. This nation consists of communities scattered along the coastlines.
Meanwhile, Tobago can be described as all costal. Is it rocket science to have small but effective, decentralised desalination plants set up to serve these communities, thereby allowing the dams’ waters to be used for the population further inland?
Are we to believe that, after six full decades, no one in the water business has seen it fit to suggest this? And if someone has, then can someone, anyone, explain why citizens of this nation have to be stressed out each year over this dry season ritual?
In a society where monies were recently earmarked to get rid of ‘latrines in Laventille,’ many people in rural areas find it necessary to maintain a latrine as “a back-up.” The reason? An inconsistent, unreliable water supply.
When the only approach to resolving matters appears to be “burn-tire-diplomacy,” when the people elected or selected and given the mandate to manage the people’s affairs are out of touch with the citizenry, it is time for their recall. The days of “toting” water are gone, never to return, certainly not with the numerous options available in an island.
It is curious, almost funny that the people who bottle water and the ones who manufacture soft drinks and the ones who make beers don’t ever seem to experience water shortages. Is there a conspiracy at work here?
In the last 60 years, the only thing which seems to have changed is that many of us who were toting water in box-carts back then are now doing so using Frontiers, Rangers, Hiluxes and other high-end vehicles.
I think that that is reason for anyone who has ever served in the capacity of Public Utilities Minister of this country, in fact, perhaps even as a government minister in this nation should be ashamed.
But then again, for someone to be ashamed suggests that that person has a sense of shame, knows what shame is.
Is that true of the parasites who just change colours we are dealing with, Minister Hinds for example?