Disconnected promise

trevorprescodHouseholds across St. Michael East have returned to conditions where the use of oil lamps is widespread and drawing water from the community standpipe is common.

That was the contention today of parliamentary representative for the constituency, Trevor Prescod, when he told Barbados TODAY that as many as 20 households in the Licorish Village area alone have had their electricity supply disconnected because the Welfare Department has failed to pay the bills as promised during the recent general election.

Prescod stated that in some cases the electricity bills were as high as $1,000, a sum beyond the financial resources of these households where no one is gainfully employed.

The outspoken parliamentarian pointed out that Ivy, St. Michael, one of the most densely populated areas of the constituency, was also affected by disconnections of utilities.

Prescod said that in some cases water and electricity supplies were being disconnected at some poor people’s homes. The St. Michael MP recalled that while passing through Martinique Road, St. Michael, he was told by a young householder that his electricity and water could soon be disconnected because he could not find gainful employment.

“Prior to the general election on February 21,” Prescod said, “these senior citizens and poor people were promised by the Welfare Department that their utility bills would be paid by that department. Unfortunately, the Welfare Department never followed through with the promise. Subsequently, the Barbados Light & Power disconnected the services.”

Prescod pointed out that before the life of the Constituency Councils came to an end, the council members were taking the bills from the senior citizens and handing them over to the Welfare Department.

“I do not know what is the reason for the non payment of the bills by the Welfare Department as promised, but officers at that department are insisting that all those persons who find themselves in straightened circumstances should come directly to the Welfare Department for an evaluation of their situation.

“This is very unfortunate because you have a house with seniors and young children where members of the family are unemployed or underemployed. Where are these people going to find the money to pay utility bills?” Prescod asked.

He recalled a case where an unemployed mother asked for a hamper to feed her children and the Welfare Officer denied her request.

The St. Michael East MP said: My concern is what is happening in St. Michael East. Is this happening exclusively in St. Michael East or is this the trend across urban Barbados. I need a response from the minister responsible for the Welfare Department.”

Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, could not be reached for a comment.†(NC)

One Response to Disconnected promise

  1. Tony Webster April 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    A coin- or a cause- has two sides. I pull my pocket regularly, to assist a few folks who, through no cause of their own, and despite cheerfully doing menial tasks, are evidently stuggling. Sometimes, a chance meeting at 3.00pm, discloses a man who has not yet had breakfast. However, I strive and fail, to erase the memory of a few years back, when I was in a line to buy a Lotto ticket at a nearby supermarket; which is something I do maybe, six times a year; total investment being $12. Immediatetly in front of me was a lady, who was perusing a long list of numbers. The paper-thin soles of her “go-forwards” indicated that her circumstances were equally lean. When her turn came, she called out “numbers” for several minutes, with the cashier dutifully repeating each one. The lady then tended a “Bovell”, and received no change in return, just her tickets. This incident, took place around 1992, when $50 bucks could provide most of a week’s food. I thought that it was not only sad, but that someone, somewhere, had failed this woman. She also had failed her hungry children. She left quickly (with no bag of groceries in hand) and I never had a chance to have a private word with her. I can only hope that some Christian-minded person might have counseled her, so that she might- never mind how hopeless her circumstances- instead feed her kids, and pray at a different altar. We are firstly, our own keepers. Mendicancy is no substitute for earning our way. Living- however modestly and tenously- within our means is the first step; and also, getting one’s priorities right. Family and relatives is the next support base, followed by one’s church and charitable NGO’s the third. Government welfare handouts, is the last, and least worthwhile, source of suport. That is, if human dignity and self respect is really the objective.


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