Mon | Mar 8, 2021

Mark Wignall | The NWC doesn’t care

Published:Thursday | January 24, 2019 | 12:00 AM
A team from the National Water Commission trying desperately to fix a broken main which sent thousands of gallons of water to waste on Laws Street in downtown Kingston recently.

It’s an old story about old pipes and high pressure and precious water running into our gullies and eventually making its way to the salty sea. We know, of course, that it will come back later when the sun extracts it and dumps it as rain on the land. And it will make its way again to another bout of waste and seeming unconcern by the National Water Commission (NWC).

Just outside my gate a fountain arose. From a broken pipe close to the surface. I called the NWC, and so did my neighbour. About a week ago, a small team came and painted in shocking pink, ‘G-5 Leak’ with an arrow indicating where it sprang from. Someone placed a sturdy rock over it and now it’s been leaking hundreds of thousands of gallons per day.

I do not have a water problem in the area of Kingston 19 where I live, but I hate to see water going to waste, especially as I know that many people throughout Jamaica have water in their pipes with the same regularity that they see Santa Claus.

Some months ago, I wrote about being highly impressed by the patience and long-suffering nature of the NWC staff at Marescaux Road as customers embellished their complaints with fabric and red fluid and the worst Jamaican behaviour.


A few weeks ago, among the many questions I asked Mr. Mark Barnett, the big boss at NWC, was one which sought to determine if the staff at NWC was too top-heavy with vice-presidents. He answered in the negative and, while I have not followed up with any investigations, I am still uncertain about the ratio of Indians to chiefs in the NWC.

Each morning for the last two weeks, as usual, I awake early to view the constant stream of water running on the newly -repaired road, slowly making its way to the under surface and creating a platform for another bout of road repairs. Each gallon leaked and every hour which elapses since the leak was reported, and every day which passes by as the NWC goes missing in inaction, are all representative of NWC as the poster child for wastage in the Jamaican State.

Operating in a country where basic civic pride has never been high on the agenda of many of our people, NWC simply gives us back that middle finger which it believes we the people deserve and have accepted for decades.

‘Bad mind’

In the 1990s and through the first decade in 2000s, the main concern of the general population was unemployment, crime, poor roads and lack of water supplies. Far down on the totem pole of main problems being experienced was ‘bad mind’. In 2019, it seems bad mind has been elevated into an art form and the NWC is overloaded with it as we get more of it through our pipes - that cool, clean water.

With the leak, I am still very alright and, were I the sort to harbour something quite strange to me – bad mind – I would be quite content to see the leak and the waste continue and hope for the worst for all those who were without precious water to cook, clean themselves and use it to chase a drink of rum.

I suppose G-5, as written by NWC is a specific code which probably ties in to priority within a region. My sympathies are with those with ticket G-500, but for lack of water. I am certain that Mr Barnett will ensure that you get your water supplies before we arrive at 2020.