We’re fed up!
St Joseph residents plan protest against water outages
It has become an all-too-familiar story for residents of St Joseph and other districts in the east and north of the island.
The seemingly endless water shortages compounded by inflated water bills have tested their patience, many of them said.
Having vented their frustrations at town hall meetings organized by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, and having written to the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) demanding improvements, consumers in St Joseph said they had reached the end of their tether and were prepared to act.
They are planning to take their case to the BWA headquarters in The Pine, St Michael by staging a protest there, for which they are awaiting police permission.
“I sent in the letter yesterday asking for permission so I have to wait until I hear from the Commissioner [Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith] first. But even if we get back water we will protest against the issue. There are people in St Joseph who haven’t received water for a whole year, yet still these people receiving bills,” Andrew Dixon, a representative of the affected residents, told Barbados TODAY.
Dixon said the protesters would take their placards with them, with messages that speak in no uncertain terms to their plight and what they think of the water company’s treatment of residents.
Many of the people, he said, had been experiencing water shortages for anything between five weeks and an entire year. Minister of Water Resource Development Dr David Estwick and the BWA have proposed several remedies for the problem, none having worked so far.
Just last week the first of two portable desalination plants was installed in St Lucy, which is expected to ease the shortages in several neighbouring districts.
Last October the minister announced an immediate response system to the water shortages, which involved placing water tanks in a number of communities.
One of these tanks can be found in Branchbury, where Ianthe Alleyne has been struggling to catch some water for her daily chores.
She told Barbados TODAY while the many outages were frustrating, she was even more worried about the quality of water coming from the tanks.
“You see that water in that tank, it ain’t no clean water you know; because that ain’t got no pump to send inside there and water coming all the time putting on that. That water now in there ain’t clean. The tanks want cleaning,” Alleyne contended.
Another vexing issue was that of water bills, which residents have repeatedly claimed were not representative of the service they received.
Alleyne said she too had been receiving bills that were much too high and they all should get refunds from BWA.
This is one of the issues that the residents said they would like to discuss with Minister Estwick.
However, they said it was perplexing that despite their woes, the minister had yet to meet with the community.
“Our main issue is the minister. We want the minister to come but don’t care what, we cannot get the minister, and this is something I would really like highlight.
“This is under his portfolio and we would like him to come to St Joseph to speak to us to see what can be done. We would like the minister to come to speak to us to see what can be done as far as reimbursement for water. We tired of lifting this water and the people complaining they can’t handle it. You can’t be working all day and then coming home looking to carry water from a tank every evening. It is not right,” Dixon complained.
“Christmas we ain’t had no water at all. When 3 o’clock [in the morning] we had to be out there catching water. Some days they come and full it and some days they don’t. I had to put my buckets in my van and drive about and bring home water and it hasn’t got any better,” another resident, who sought anonymity, said.
When contacted, BWA Corporate Communication Specialist Joy-Ann Haigh told Barbados TODAY she would sensitize the general manager and the chairman to the issue regarding the planned protest action and would comment after speaking to her colleagues.