Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Mark Wignall | NWC: Excellent customer care, horrible customers

Published:Sunday | April 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Chupski and I arrived at the Marescaux Road office of the National Water Commission (NWC) at 10:15 a.m. last Wednesday. Our ticket was B88 and they were servicing B64. They had about five desks with customer-care agents, plus about two others for special purposes. That's in addition to the numerous cashiers.

We left and bought breakfast in the Regal Plaza then drove back down to the NWC and had our breakfast in the car. Our timing was reasonably good. We went back inside when B82 was being attended to. We spent about another hour until our ticket was signalled, but in that time what I observed were professional customer-care agents with the patience of the biblical Job and too many customers with the behaviour of wild animals.

Not surprisingly, all the agents were females. One male customer sat by the desk of a young agent and shouted in her face and intimidated her for about 45 minutes. "A my taxes pay yu! Yu wan mi cuss some claat inna di place today!" He never spent a single minute being calm, and I wondered how any information was being conveyed.

As we sat by a lady who told me she had been working there since 2000, I marvelled at her ability to smile and even crack a few subdued jokes. "Sometimes on my break I just go to a section at the back and lock away myself," she said.

At the desk next to us sat another man who, it seemed, arrived there with anger issues. "Mi seh mi want di water!" He leaned over menacingly towards the middle-age woman as he shouted.

The lady responded. "Sir, I am asking you not to shout at me." That only increased his fury, as he drew away, then shouted what seemed like a lot of personal nonsense in the lady's face. Then came the reality as the lady scoured his records.

"It showed that we disconnected the supply in 2009 because no bills were being paid for the past year. We revisited in 2013 and found that it had been illegally reconnected. We again disconnected ... ."

As our matter was settled amicably, we left, and I thanked the lady for her ability to last 17 years in a high-pressure environment.

In the 1980s, the customer care at the NWC offices was in shambles. In 2017, it is distinctly much better, and the professionalism shines through. Unfortunately, there are attitudinal deficits among the general population and that was fully on show last Wednesday.

I salute the ladies of the NWC.

The major problem that I have with the NWC is with its outside crews who dig up roads, both major and minor, and once the pipes beneath have been repaired, the space is left for many weeks unpaved.


NWA and potholes


The National Works Agency (NWA) is also into its piecemeal efforts in repairing roads. Lately, sections along sections of Red Hills Road, Havendale, Meadowbrook and areas close by have had potholes prepped, that is, they are cleared of debris and finely chiselled at sharp angles in preparation for filling and rolling.

The problem is, many of these sharp angles are quite dangerous to car tyres, as they appear to be, newly fixed potholes until the car is literally on top with a big bump and probably a blowout. The question is, why such a long time between prepping and fixing?

One would have thought that once the prepping crew was despatched, the maximum time between full repairs would be, say, two days. But this has never been so. Apparently, the NWA figures into its logistics that it needs to have an entire community of potholes prepped before the bitumen truck and other machinery is rolled in.

While they enjoy the luxury of waiting until the trucks arrive, drivers of less-hardy vehicles are running hard into these sharp-angled holes. At the southern end of Meadowbrook, almost an entire road is so affected. Driving on it is almost an impossibility.

At the other end of the spectrum are thoroughfares like those off Weymouth Drive in Washington Gardens in the constituency of Anthony Hylton, who was the much-derided minister of industry, investment and commerce in the last PNP administration.

The potholes there are so huge that some roadways take on the shape of riverbeds.

Politically, it does not suit the JLP administration to repair them because the PNP will always win. So, where does the NWA come in? Certainly, the NWA is a non-political agency because potholes do not vote.

E.G Hunter, head of the NWA, how are decisions made as to which roads get repaired? Do politicians single out certain constituencies based on who has power and the success of horse trading, or are repairs carried out on a needs basis?

Seems to me that Washington Gardens smacks of politics.


Donald trump is an angry wrecking ball


"Nobody ever told me that politics was going to be so much fun," said President Donald Trump last Tuesday at a reception for senators.

Although the president is a great prevaricator, one sensed that he was actually uttering a rare truth in that statement, because by now it should be obvious to all political watchers that Trump derives pleasure from creating chaos.

He is like that lonely little boy in the backyard seated on a rock and the rest of children have shunned him and are playing together. Then he gets the kerosene and the matches and sets the tool shed ablaze. And then he gets all the attention. For all the wrong reasons.

His failed bid to convince Congress to scuttle the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, has obviously angered him, not because he harboured any core values about its merit or demerits but because he did not get his way.

And once this deeply dysfunctional man does not get his way, as he has been used to all of his life, he is headed to the tool shed with the kerosene and matches.

Attempting to overturn all of Obama's efforts in the Clean Air Act is his next target, not because he cares much about climate change or the environment, but because it was something generated by Obama, the nemesis that is eating out at him daily.

Throughout his campaign and his brief presidency, he has proven himself to be a bully. One major trait of bullies is that, unfortunately, they have the ability to cow sensible men who prefer the application of reason before taking any action.

That was quite obvious in how he got to Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, forced him to make a fool of himself and, in the process, scuttling the investigations into the Russian connection in an open House hearing.

That, however, is just a matter of kicking the can down the road as the Senate takes over. As the Russia-link probe hangs over Trump's head, he will continue to bully as he is doing, picking on the Democrats and the Freedom Caucus.

As he ramps up the usual meetings with world leaders, one feature will always show up when Trump sits down to meet and talk with the next powerful world leader. One, Trump is a mentally disfigured human being, and the other, like say the Chinese leader, has a high IQ, is in tough with global matters and is jockeying for first past the post.

Trump has convinced himself that he is in it for the ride because by now he fully realises he is in way over his head. But as long as he remains there, there is more fun and chaos to be created.

Kerosene and matches, anyone?

- Mark Wignall is a political and current-affairs analyst. Email feedback to and