Kitson Town residents accuse NWC of unfair disconnections
By their own admission, long-time residents of Fletcher, a rural community of Kitson Town in St Catherine, tried but were unsuccessful in having water meters installed at their homes and, in turn, were never billed for the precious commodity.
So it came as a shock to many yesterday when a National Water Commission (NWC) operation blanketed their district to disconnect the water supply they say was connected by the state-operated water agency.
Titled the 'NWC Kitson Town Revenue Recovery Operations', the three-day activity is intended to regularise the residents' water supply, remove illegal connections, and prosecute where necessary.
"I've never had a meter," declared Constantine Ellis, who has lived in the area for more than 60 years.
"My mother tried [to get one] when she was alive, then me and my brother went back down there (NWC) a few months after to try again and they told us that they don't have any meter. So, when mi see them come now, me a say them must get some meter and come to install them. Me frighten to see them a cut off the pipe instead," related Ellis.
The elderly male further argued that only a few residents have had water meters installed - those who would have gone into the Spanish Town-based NWC office long ago.
"What are we supposed to do?" asked Ellis. "They don't have the meter, we are not getting any estimated bill, and we have to use water. It's not our fault," Ellis contended.
Another resident who goes by the name 'Murray' shared Ellis' view, venting frustration that the disconnection exercise was not announced.
"We had no idea they were coming; is that vex we," said Murray. "We don't even get to catch up any water. My niece went down there to pay for it (a meter) and it's the same story. Are we supposed to wait until we get meter to bathe and wash our things?"
Securing meters a difficult task
Although his water supply was not disconnected by the National Water Commission (NWC) yesterday, 'Niceman', a resident of Fletcher district in Kitson Town, argued for those who were affected by the operation. He said that while he was fortunate enough to secure a meter some time ago, other residents have gone as far as to pay for the meter and were still waiting to receive it.
"You have to carry proof-of-land [ownership] papers to NWC, and most persons here don't have it. But when most of them do get it and go back to NWC, them say them don't have any more meter, so it's not fair to come in and just disconnect their water," he argued.
Speaking with The Gleaner, acting receivables manager for St Catherine, Veviene Daley-Adams, said that the intention was to target the areas that had flowing water.
"Regulation is the aim, so if the water is not coming in the pipe, we don't want to cut it and plug it, and when the water comes back, there's leakage. So we rather prefer to wait until the water is flowing, then we disconnect," she said.
As a part of the operation, Adams said that the NWC had travelled with meters for meter-less residents who had been paying estimated bills.