UNC claims water crisis in south, central Trinidad

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Princes Town MP Barry Padarath. – File photo

THE Opposition UNC said it was not assured by statements from Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales that an electrical problem at the Desalination Company of TT’s (Desalcott) plant at Point Lisas is being addressed.

The party did not believe areas affected by a shutdown of that plant over the weekend would see their daily water supplies restored to normal in the shortest possible time.

The UNC maintained that what happened with the plant last weekend is part of a water crisis in parts of south and central Trinidad.

Expressing this view on behalf of the party were Princes Town MP Barry Padarath, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, Chaguanas East MP Vandana Mohit, Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally and Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram.

In a statement, Padarath said Gonzales was known to be full of sound and fury and resort to personal attacks rather than dealing with any substantive issue.

He added that the water supply of hundreds of people in south and central Trinidad was adversely affected by the problem at the plant that led to its shutdown on Sunday.

Padarath said the situation was not helped by what he described as “poor planning, lack of communications and irregular approach to maintenance.”

He reiterated a call by the UNC for Government to increase the number of contractors who supply water trucking services as one solution when normal water supplies are disrupted.

Padarath also called on WASA to establish community tanks in rural areas as a short-term measure.

Indarsingh agreed with Padarath.

“This is a crisis situation.”

He said Gonzales is the latest in a long line of public utilities ministers since September 2015 who have done nothing to improve the country’s water sector. Ancil Antoine, Fitzgerald Hinds, Marlene McDonald and Robert Le Hunte were some of Gonzales’ predecessors.

Indarsingh recalled that the Prime Minister briefly held the public utilities portfolio early in the PNM’s tenure in govvernment.

He wondered why no contingency plan was in place to deal with the electrical problem at the plant.

Indarsingh said his constituency office staff was busy checking to see if schools in Couva South had a supply of water on the first day of the new academic year on Monday.

At that time, Indarsingh did not indicate if any schools in Couva South did not have a water supply.

Indarsingh said approximately 50 per cent of the constituency was affected by the plant’s shutdown.

Mohit said, “The situation is untenable with school reopening and the Minister of Public Utilities must provide an immediate explanation when the situation will be normalised.”‘

She added that Chaguanas East was plagued by an unreliable water supply over the last three weeks.

“In the interim constituents continue to suffer whilst WASA fails to provide an adequate and timely back up supply.”

Rambally said his constituents had the same concerns. He said he had received complaints from people living in Felicity, Cacandee Road and Lyle Lane about their water supplies being cut.

Ratiram said he received complaints from his constituents about a disruption in their water supply.

He shared a WhatsApp message he received from one such constituent who lives in Chase Village, in which the constituent claimed to have been without water for the last eight months. Ratiram said this constituent told him he had “called WASA many times but to no avail.”