Minister admits poor service but says don’t politicise water, electricity

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales – File photo/ Sureash Cholai

PUBLIC Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales has apologised to people living in the constituency of Tabaquite who have suffered disruptions in water and electricity services.

However, Gonzales said the issue of water and electricity ought not to be politicised.

He made the statement in Parliament on Wednesday after Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes highlighted poor delivery of goods and services to several communities there and called for them to be urgently addressed.

“Every day I speak with persons who are seeking assistance with basic services such as their pipe-borne water supply or road repair.

“Many communities throughout Tabaquite are forced to go without a water supply for weeks, even months. Residents are also facing deplorable road conditions that not only burden their wallets but (are) a real issue of public safety.”

She pointed to severe infrastructural neglect, the impetus behind her #FixOurRoadsTabaquite social media campaign. Videos and photographs of infrastructural concerns formed a major part of their advocacy efforts to central government, but Haynes said their collective cries have fallen on deaf ears.

“Residents are finding it more difficult to endure the worsening conditions. My office continues to lobby the Ministry of Works and Transport and other government agencies such as the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to take much-needed action.

“The people of Poonah, Mamoral, Lightbourne, Caratal, Gran Couva and many more communities are nearing their breaking point and are speaking out. They must no longer be ignored.

“How many more collapsed bridges or major landslips must occur before these issues are addressed comprehensively?”

Gonzales said he sympathised with the constituents of Tabaquite affected by poor service, but said it has been happening all over Trinidad and Tobago.

“Even in my own constituency of Lopinot/Bon Air West, I have to deal with water interruptions.”

St Joseph, Pointe-a-Pierre, “every single constituency,” he said, grappled with disruptions.

“I always say, as Minister of Public Utilities, that the issue of water, the issue of electricity ought not to be politicised, because they affect every single constituency and every single citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Gonzales noted that the constituency is served by the Caroni, Freeport and Navet water treatment plants and Guaracara reservoir.

In October, he said, WASA repaired the San Pedro booster station and a ruptured 12-inch main at Taitt Road, Freeport, as well as a leaking eight-inch main at Farnon Village within the first week of November.

The installation of 513 metres of line along Quarry Road, Williamsville has also seen an improvement in the water supply, he said.

Gonzales said four wells have been reactivated and are now producing more than one million gallons of water to the Freeport Treatment plant. Three more wells in the Freeport Well field will be brought back into production within the next month, and anticipated to produce an additional one million gallons.

He said WASA will continue to drill wells, refurbish the Gran Couva booster, replace water mains along Mission and Todds Road, Freeport, and rehabilitate Freeport Water Treatment plant to improve water supply for the people of Tabaquite.

With respect to electricity, Gonzales said, “TTEC has advised me over the last six months they have received 48 unplanned outages and the main causes are as a result of vegetation, animal contact, vehicular accidents and aged infrastructure in some regards.”

Routine maintenance at several areas, including Mayo Road, Poona Village, Allen Road, Nariva Road, Guaracara-Tabaquite Road and Rio Claro has resulted in a marked reduction in interruption of supply.

He added, “I sincerely apologise to some of the citizens in Tabaquite who may have been affected by some of the disruptions in water and electricity.

“In every single instance, WASAand TTEC have been on the job stabalising and improving the water supply. As we do so for the constituency of Tabaquite, we will do so for every constituency, in spite of difficult financial circumstances.”