In my times of musing, which I do regularly these days, I found myself questioning whether this country of my birth is a real nation. When, in 2019, after more than 50 years of running our own affairs (good or bad), we are still lacking in so many basic laws and regulations which would serve to modernise our society making us relevant to the Caribbean and even the world, developed and underdeveloped.
We are oblivious of our environment as plastic and Styrofoam containers can be seen everywhere; lawlessness pervades from top to bottom, corruption and fraud included. There are so many ills which impact our people in so many diverse ways, and regardless of which administration is in power, the situation has remained the same or even worse over the last 54 years. We remain woefully wanting.
Much progress can be recorded in the economy (numerous shopping malls, supermarkets and convenience stores); educational services (numerous tertiary institutions); construction, as manifested in our modern and tall buildings and some roadways but where our problems lie is in the efficient delivery of services public and private—all kinds.
This brings me around to today’s topic—WATER. I smiled cynically when I read about the restrictions placed on the use of our limited water supply because the fine, if caught, is a whopping $75. So, given the entrenched lawlessness and ‘doh-care-damn’ attitude, I wondered if the restrictions would really change the mindset of people.
The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) insists that it was acting according to the law as it currently applies. No problem there. But isn’t it time the laws be amended to suit today’s conditions?
We have a paid Utilities Commission which is supposed to deal with utility rates including water. All the population has heard is to expect new rates soon. When that ‘soon’ will reach is anybody’s guess. I think we can all agree we do have the lowest rates around and will not protest a reasonable rate increase.
Whatever happened to the plan to instal water metres in every home and business place, so that owners or occupiers will pay for the gallons of water used every month— a winner for the Authority and a guaranteed revenue stream? That was decades ago and like so many other national plans, it has gone the way of all flesh. It’s a classic nine-day story, to which we have become quite accustomed.
Flaws in the water restrictions which come immediately to light are many. What about those car wash operations which have sprung up almost overnight all over the country? They use an inordinate amount of water. Do they then close up shop with a probable notice “will reopen when rain starts to fall”?
What about all the country’s restaurants and their constant use of water in their kitchens and washrooms? What about our hospitals and health centres, overrun by disease and in which water use is paramount? Can anyone predict what will happen to all the plant nurseries – how are they going to survive?
In the upcoming Carnival season what about those ‘wet’ fetes that are becoming more and more popular? Would there be a license?
So, when the Met Office predicts a harsh dry season how do we respond? How does WASA respond—by banning the use of hoses for wetting plants or washing cars.
Did I hear a government minister say about 20 years ago something like “water for all”? Whatever happened to that promise? It does not happen by ‘vaps’, it takes meticulous planning so that as the population grows and the need for more water becomes imminent the water sources are increased.
We live on islands, surrounded by water, salt nonetheless. Why not more desalination plants situated at various strategic points?
All it takes is foresight and planning, accompanied by implementation, by our leaders. Then we will have a real and modern country.