Several residents of the Bounty Hall community in Trelawny took to the streets on Tuesday to protest what they deem as poor service in relation to their water supply.
The residents say that they have grown increasingly frustrated at the frequent disruptions to their water supply and on Tuesday they decided that they would use a peaceful protest to air their grouses. Currently sections of the community have been without the precious resource for close to two weeks and this disruption, residents say, is the third time in less than two months. This latest occurrence has been attributed to a broken-down pump, the said pump which has been responsible for many of the other times that the community has been without water.
The residents are calling on the authorities to find a permanent fix to the problem. One female pointed out that the situation has been going on for too long. “I’m 57 years old and from mi born till now we having water problem,” noting that the lack of water impacted their lives in a number of ways, including preventing her from getting her vaccine shot. “A lot of persons go up there (community clinic) fi tek them COVID vaccine yesterday, dem second shot and no water” opining that the shot might be expired by the time things are sorted out.
Another resident noted that the older folks are more seriously affected, “I think that they need to get a better system because the people are suffering. The older people, a lot of us can’t get a shower, we can’t even use the bathroom. We can’t go to the bushes no more, we too old to go to the bushes, so we have to have water, we are paying our bills. So, we need the Water Commission to send water to us and not just a truck” he stated.
Also on the scene was Councillor for the Wakefield division, Jonathan Bartley agrees that the situation has been going on for too long. “We get water from the Queen of Spain Valley where it is pumped up to the reservoir and where it is gravity fed to Montego Bay. However, there is a pump used to direct the water to us in Bounty Hall. For years that pump continues to break down and they fix it but it keeps breaking down” he disclosed, highlighting that he too has grown frustrated as he also lives in the area.
Councillor Bartley said the situation can be remedied by adding a second pump, a view he notes is shared by Prime Minister Andrew Holness. “Last year I brought the situation to the attention of the Prime Minister, who was in the area. Luckily Mr Mark Barnett (President of the National Water Commission) and Mr Kerr, the Vice President, were on the scene and the Prime Minister talked about the situation and asked the water commission to install a second pump, because that is what we need,” the former mayor related.
He explained that the benefit of the second pump would allow for any time one pump is down, then it could take up the work until the other pump is repaired. He notes he has been making queries to the NWC since last September and each time he is told that the pump has been ordered but it has not been acquired as yet.
He said that another alternative would be that when the pump is down, they bypass it and allow the water that is being pumped from the Queen of Spain system to go directly into the community. “I spoke to them and asked them to make this adjustment, but they say that it would not benefit everybody, just about fifty percent of those affected, but that would be better than what we have here”.
Residents currently without water are asked to get the precious commodity from a truck that has been dispatched to the area, however, there have been complaints as to how the water has been distributed with some persons saying that it is not being done in an orderly manner and are upset with the personnel doing the job. “When the water truck come Sunday, the man tell we say him get list fi water who and who and a only him coworker them alone him come fi water. So, mi want to know if a water commission people alone fi get water fi use” one protester argued.
Despite the protest, a visit to the pump house on Tuesday saw workmen from the NWC effecting repairs to the pump which is expected to be up and running in short order. However, the residents suggest that this will only last a few days and then they will be in the same situation again.