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Le Hunte: No magic wand to solve WASA problems

Published: 
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte, left, listens to the complaints from Councillor for Calvary Hill Michael Castellano during his tour of WASA’s facilities in Arima yesterday. At right is CEO of WASA Dr Ellis Burris. PICTURE RALPH BANWARIE

Minister of Public Utilities Robert Le Hunte said citizens cannot expect a magic wand to be waved and all the problems affecting the Water and Sewerage Authority would be fixed.

He said giving the limited resources at the Government’s disposal WASA is attempting to fix some of the critical issues.

Speaking to the media during a tour of Arima water facilities, the Minister said WASA began a leak repair programme as a significant portion that water being produced was being wasted.

He also promised to stop a quarry from disposing of its slush in the Guanapo River immediately as this was one of the major causes of water disruption in Arima. The slush affects the functioning of the pump at Guanapo.

“It is not a wand that is going to be waved and problems of WASA is going to be eradicated,” Le Hunte said.

The Public Utilities Minister made these statements on his visit to the Borough of Arima after numerous complaints were made by the Mayor of Arima Lisa Morris -Julian and burgesses about the scarcity of water in the eastern Borough yesterday.

Le Hunte said he was satisfied by the apology made by the WASA to the Mayor, Councillors and burgesses of Arima after WASA distributed water for a bikini carwash at Calvary bar, while thousands were without a water supply.

The minister assured the burgesses that there would be no recurrence of such a situation.

Le Hunte said since assuming office two months ago he made a decision to get out on the field and speak with the people and also to get a first-hand view of the problems.

He told the media that his visit to Arima along with officials from WASA which included CEO Dr Ellis Buris, Operations Manager Shurland Shepard, Senior Project Manager Arlene Johnson Lawrence and Deputy Permanent Secretary Beverley Khan, was due to the numerous complaints he had received from the Mayor of Arima and the burgesses, who are without water supply for weeks and to also look at the IDB wastewater project along the O’Meara Road.

“It is my duty to see what is happening and view the problem, especially when it affects people and country,” Le Hunte said.

Councillor for Calvary Michael Castellano told Le Hunte that in the Dry and Rainy seasons people suffer for water at Calvary.

“Nobody knows the pressure that we experience for water. He asked why it is WASA have to lock-off water distribution from Mt Pleasant to supply Calvary Hill.

“Why is this happening in 2017? I had to beg the Fire Service to supply water to the burgesses and himself. To be frank WASA system is outdated,” he said

Morris-Julian said the distribution of water is a challenge as burgesses will videotape water overflowing at the pump and ask why they are not receiving water.

Le Hunte also toured to O’Meara Road where he saw a WASA main which has been leaking since 2013.

Le Hunte said those leaks that could be fixed, would be fixed and the bigger issues will be addressed in the long term.

Floating Manager WASA North East Distribution Vonetta Antoine told the minister that the shortage of water supply occurs as a result of flooding which forces the distribution plants to shut down after heavy and consistent rainfall.

She said there are some people who are building homes at Calvary Hill and Mt Pleasant at a higher level cannot access water from the WASA distribution system.

To solve the problem, she suggested the water treatment plant be upgraded.

Le Hunte agreed but noted there were bigger problems and in the interim, the Government was going to fix what could be fixed.

RALPH BANWARIE