WASA promises improved service after Cunupia protests

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo –

TENSIONS rose between the police and villagers of Kernaham Trace, Cunupia, on Friday morning, as protracted frustration over an absence of pipe- and truck-borne water supplies erupted in a fiery protest.

Saying protest was the only way to get redress, residents defended their action, saying they had gone for weeks without water.

Accusing one particular responding police officer of being “very aggressive,” residents called for calm, advising, “Don’t wild them (police) up.”

As police threatened to arrest some of the protesters, voices could be heard in the background saying, “In a war there must be casualties. Somebody must get locked up,”

Old oil drums, fridges, mattresses and other debris were pulled onto the roadway at Upper Kernaham Road, as residents clapped and chanted, “We want water.”

In videos circulated on line, residents claimed they had not had pipe-borne water for between 10 and 15 years.

One resident said, “Villagers come out for a special cause. WASA (the Water and Sewerage Authority) has left us no choice. It is a dangerous time (dry season) not to have water. It is 10, 15 years we not getting water in the taps. We don’t want truck-borne water, we want it running through our pipes. We spending money for water and we getting no justice.”

Another villager pointed out, “Right through we have to buy water and pay WASA at the same time. That come like extortion. We see WASA trucks passing up and down the road, people making requests but we not getting water.

“Something has to be wrong. WASA we calling on you to make it right.”

Caroni East MP Dr Rishad Seecheran described the situation as a crisis residents had been enduring for several years, and appealed to the WASA to resolve the water woes.

Saying it was not a new issue, Seecheran noted that, over the years, residents had been receiving a truck-borne supply as the pipe-borne supply was not able to reach homes at those extremities of the system.

He said many elderly and children continued to be disadvantaged.

Seecheran said he had raised the matter inside and outside of the Parliament and WASA was on record as attributing the situation to being directly associated with reduced production at the Caroni water treatment plant owing to the current harsh dry-season conditions.

In response to Friday’s protest, WASA acknowledged challenges with maintaining a consistent pipe-borne water supply to parts of the area, but said it had also been providing a supplementary truck-borne service.

It said its records reflected that 124 truck-borne deliveries were made to customers along Kernaham Trace, in February 2024.

“Part of Kernaham Trace is supplied by the Caroni Water Treatment Plant (WTP), while the other is serviced by the Las Lomas WTP.

“At present, customers in the area, who are supplied by the Caroni WTP in particular, have been experiencing low pressures or no water, since they are located at the extremities of the distribution system.”

To improve the service, WASA has undertaken to augment the supply by the Caroni system with an interconnection to the Las Lomas pipeline distribution system in the coming days.

It also plans to carry out refurbishment works on its Las Lomas Well #12, which when completed by the end of March 2024, will add approximately 0.4 million gallons of water per day, to the distribution system, WASA said.