WASA gives ‘Divali blessing’ to Freeport, environs

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Marvin Gonzales –

MINISTER of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales has described the Water and Sewerage Authority’s (WASA) increased water production at the Freeport Waterworks as a “Divali blessing.”

On Wednesday, WASA commissioned Freeport wells numbers 19 and 20 and converted non-producing well “California 3” at the plant which will boost water production from 2.4 million imperial gallons per day to 3.4 million imperial gallons per day.

Gonzales said the move would benefit over 20,000 people in Freeport and environs, giving them a more frequent water supply.

He said those closest to the water plant could see up to a 24/7 supply. He said those on the extremities of the area had gone from receiving water every nine days to every four days.

During his address at the commissioning, Gonzales said three additional wells would be drilled in the Freeport area.

“We are not finishing here today, under the IDB programme, we are going to be drilling three new wells that is going to produce approximately one million gallons of water more in the Freeport catchment zone, and I feel a sense of comfort that almost every home, every business will get and enjoy a 24/7 supply of water.

“Twenty-one thousand people here today now breathing a sigh of relief that their improvement in water is once again here and it is not a Divali hoax, it’s a Divali blessing. I give you that comfort today.”

Gonzales said the drilling of the wells and all the necessary infrastructure to transport and treat the additional water amounted to some $20 million.

He told reporters work was planned on plants around the country to help boost water supply.

“What we are aiming to do is to have contractors selected…by the end of the year or the first two weeks in January so that we can make use of the dry season to complete those refurbishment works on all those plants around the country.”

Speaking at the commissioning, Caroni Central MP Arnold Ram and Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh commended the move that would benefit their constituents.

Indarsingh noted while he was pleased with the improved supply, he would let time tell how effective the project was.

While he commended and thanked all involved in the project, Indarsingh was cross about refreshments offered at the event.

Immediately following reporters’ interview with the minister after the event, Indarsingh pushed in front the cameras to share his disappointment that vegetarian meal options were not provided for Hindus who were fasting for Divali.

“As a practising Hindu I find it disrespectful on the part of the Water and Sewerage Authority, and I call upon the minister to launch an immediate investigation in terms of why members of the Hindu community were disrespected in such a manner on the eve of Divali celebrations.”

In response, Gonzales apologised and said he did not believe it was an intentional oversight.

“Of course, the Minister of Public Utilities is not responsible for managing these things. But it just shows that sometimes as managers and people in authority, we need to be very sensitive to some of these religious cultures.

“I don’t believe that it was intended and they meant any malice, but I wish to, in my capacity as Minister of Public Utilities, on behalf of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to be able to apologise most sincerely to the members of the Hindu community for this grave oversight that was done on this particular matter.”

It was not the first hiccup at the event which started over an hour late after their sound system did not arrive and another company had to be called to step in.