WATER NOT FOR ALL! – will always be our greatest political tragedy

OPINION

It will always be our greatest anomaly.

The thing that we need the most is threatening to destroy us, wasting before our very eyes. And yet year after year we do nothing to capture it. And then days after it is gone, we moan our loss.
This is a country that should never be without water. This is a country whereby now we should have been boasting that we have achieved water for all. But our leaders lack vision. Our leaders lack the capacity to think in a way to build our nation. Our leaders seem not to care about taking us beyond Third World status and that is the greatest disappointment of this beautiful country.
Only a few weeks ago, I recall WASA complaining about the wa­ter levels at our reservoirs, about the need for citizens to conserve the use of water, about restrictions being placed on the use of wa­ter and about the schedules to be imposed on areas where potable water is a scarce commodity. And even then I thought about 2018 when the great deluge inundated the Greenvale area and other parts and wondered about the water that we could have saved.
Suddenly it dawned upon me, that either we lack the capacity to be solution-driven or simply as a people we just don’t care.

There are some communities where people have to wake up as early as 3:00 am

As I sat last Sunday watching the rain pound against my win­dows, as I watched the streets sur­render to the downpour, I mused to myself that last September 7, 2015, we voted for a change of Government because we believed that Dr. Keith Rowley and his youthful team would have been able to resolve the water crisis we face year after year.
After all, on page 29 under the rubric “The Water Sector” the PNM Manifesto promises “Man­agement of the water resources of the country to provide not only a reliable water supply to meet pres­ent demands of all but to ensure sustainability of supply and the available water resources of the country to meet the needs of future generations.”
Regardless how I try to un­derstand or spin what the Row­ley Administration has done to achieve this goal since assuming office, regardless of what analysis I perform, it is clear to me that the goals enshrined in this statement were never really meant to be met.
Thousands of volumes of water literally shut parts of our country down and this happens annually. And yet, after four years in of­fice, no attempt has been made, no strategy has been devised to capture this runoff and recycle it for the use of citizens who cry out every single day for lack of water.
There are some communities where people have to wake up 3:00 am and earlier to fill water because of WASA’s schedule. Some of them have to tote water for miles because the pressure in the pipes is not strong enough to reach citizens living on the top of inclines. But this problem can be solved if we find lead­ers among us who can simply
think.
We were conned into believ­ing that the availability of water would have been the focus of this Government in a way that future generations would not have to go through the pain that we encoun­ter on a daily basis. But clearly we were fooled because, after four years in office, there is no attempt at a resolution for the present gen­eration.
So, the joke is on us because while water could be availed, our leadership has failed to make it ac­cessible to all.
This promise of “a reliable water supply” will return in the 2020 PNM Manifesto, colourful language, written by specialists who really have no intentions of achieving the goal of water for all.

Politicians convince us that they do not care about us

It will be written by technocrats who lack the vision of even at­tempting to construct at least two other dams and set up the infra­structure to ensure that the vol­umes of water which flood our streets find a path to be treated and recirculated to our people and thus annihilate both the delivery of water for all and the flooding that continues to plague us.
Politicians convince us that they do not care about us.
They have finally persuaded us that what is of concern to them are the mega projects especially as elections draw nigh offering the perception that the purpose is to glean the resources needed to en­sure that they return to power.
But we cannot continue like this. Especially when we can do something to avoid the destruc­tion that comes upon us every year during what we know to be the rainy season.
This is a time we should wel­come and not fear. Because we know that the slightest downpour will cause the streets, especially in Port of Spain, to be flooded.
What do we plan to do next year when the deluge hits us and again our reservoirs would be reading a critical level that places a threat on the availability of water for all our people?
The resources allocated to assist those who have suffered great loss due to flooding problems have been drastically reduced and are slow in coming.
So what are we going to do to trap this water in a way that it does not become a threat for our people but instead it becomes a blessing?
These are the challenges we face. These challenges are not challenges of yesterday or even yesteryear but challenges that have been plaguing us for decades now. And the fact that government after government seems impotent in treating with this challenge tells us a lot about the intelligence that resides within our leaders and about their will to make our lives a little better than they were before.
The PNM under Patrick Man­ning faced a similar crisis and instead of putting infrastructure in place it focused on building what were supposed to be edifices of excellence to ensure that Port of Spain becomes the economic capital of the Caribbean.

Maybe Dr Rowley was blindsided

Under a PNM administration, while the people in Laventille and Belmont were struggling for water the government redirected millions to host Chogum among others, money that could have been better spent to improve the quality of life for our citizens who are still using latrines and still tot­ing water in our capital city. These things happen because our political leadership fails to care.
Maybe Dr. Rowley was blind­sided and maybe I should give to him the benefit of the doubt. May­be his grandiose plans for water, still unknown to us, are a part of his plan for post-2020 since he seems assured that victory will be his.
But the water pains our people are undergoing, the suffering that is taking place, the distraction of having to tote water by children who should be focusing to study to keep up with their peers in the global village, say that the prom­ise to meet the water needs of fu­ture generations was nothing more than a PNM farce; a promise that was not meant to be kept.
Maybe we can start by looking at the old and decrepit infrastruc­ture that bleeds more than 50% of the available water and start fixing it.
Maybe along our streets, we can build underground tanks to trap the water which we could access after a deluge and take it to the dams for treatment rather than al­low it to waste and become a men­ace to us all.
Maybe the leadership could provide us with a plan explaining how it proposes to meet the water needs for us now and future gen­erations.
Only the party that provides us with a clear plan of how water for all is to be achieved should be considered worthy of our vote.
It is time we send a message to both parties letting them know that we are fed up with ole talk and it is time to govern this coun­try putting the people first.

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