By LYNAIRE MUNNINGS
MEMBER of Parliament for Central and South Eleuthera Clay Sweeting said the disruption of water supply on the island is “unacceptable and extremely frustrating” - including expressing disappointment to colleagues.
Yesterday, Mr Sweeting, who is the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, acknowledged that residents have been without water for “some seven days”, adding that the water supply on the island has been inconsistent for several months.
Residents there, particularly in Central Eleuthera, have been hit with water supply disruptions a number of times this year.
In a press release yesterday, Mr Sweeting said he has been candid in expressing his “disappointment” over the issue in both of his colleagues, Works and Utilities Minister Alfred Sears, and Sylvanus Petty, chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation, who is also the North Eleuthera MP.
He said he was scheduled to attend a meeting with the Ministry of Works, WSC, and Aqua Designs, the company contracted by the government to supply water to Central Eleuthera, yesterday afternoon.
“The management team at Aqua Design must act with great urgency in addressing this long-standing issue, which residents of Eleuthera have faced for far too long. There is no justification that any company can give that it is acceptable for residents not to have access to water for approximately seven days,” Mr Sweeting said.
The Central and South Eleuthera MP said the residents “deserve better”, adding that the disruption in water supply is an “extreme” hazard to both the health and safety of residents of the island.
“I have been candid in expressing my disappointment to both the minister of works and the chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation. The residents of Eleuthera deserve better. No access to water is far more than an inconvenience. It is an extreme hazard to both health and safety.”
On its Facebook page, the Water and Sewerage Corporation announced bottled water distribution to residents of Central Eleuthera, noting that this initiative was initiated by North Eleuthera MP.
“Member of Parliament for North Eleuthera Sylvanus Petty initiated water tankering and bottled water distribution services to bring immediate relief to the elderly, medically challenged, disabled, and those customers in general who were adversely affected in those supply zones identified,” said WSC.
Following the announcement of the water distribution, residents were critical of the ongoing situation on social media.
One Facebook user said: “It is very sad that this is necessary. I’m conflicted about the publicity of this distribution effort making a ‘hero’ out of the politician. I find it very hard to swallow that in the 21st century, in a country that although developing, has enough tertiary-trained professionals who I have no doubt can come to a sustainable solution. This is absolutely unacceptable that we are dealing with the problem over and over again. Get to the root cause, and fix it.....post haste.”
“Yall just need to fix the water situation ASAP! This is unacceptable,” said another Facebook user.
When contacted for comment yesterday, WSC consultant Loretta Butler-Turner said the company will have a “full and comprehensive” press update on Thursday in regard to the matter.
However, Free National Movement leader Michael Pintard was “alarmed by the nature” of the press statement released by Mr Sweeting, questioning the relationship between the ministers of the Davis administration.
He said Mr Sweeting threw his colleagues “under the bus” in the press release.
Mr Pintard also blasted Mr Sears, adding that the FNM has “no confidence” in the minister of works’ ability to resolve the matter.
“Now, let me be clear, we do not have confidence in the minister with responsibility for works,” he told The Tribune yesterday.
“We have said so as it relates to the roadworks. We believe that he is out of his depth, that he does not have a sense of urgency, that his approach to governing this ministry will not rise to the level where he will be able to assist this administration in attracting strategic partners to execute significant public private partnerships around the many capital development projects that we need as a as a community.
“So, Water and Sewerage in our estimation, it is no surprise that his performance with respect to that issue of works in general, water and sewerage in particular, is lacklustre,” he continued.
Last week, Mr Sears apologised to residents in Eleuthera for the continued disruption of water supply on the island, adding that the matter is one of “deep concern” for officials.
“That is a matter of deep concern and I want to really apologise to the residents of Eleuthera,” he told reporters yesterday. “There have been a number of disruptions with the desalination plant that is Aqua designed and they’ve been working,” Mr Sears said last week.