Tue | May 21, 2019

Water shortages cripple schools

Published:Saturday | February 2, 2019 | 12:23 AM

Water shortages have severely affected activities at a number of Corporate Area schools, threatening the hydration of students and presenting challenges to basic hygiene.

Owen Speid, principal of Rousseau Primary School in east central St Andrew, said that water restrictions have hobbled operations at the institution, especially for students who will be sitting the Primary Exit Profile (PEP).

“I just got a call from the school (Friday) that all the toilets are clogged up. There’s no water at all on the compound. I have been calling the [National] Water Commission (NWC) now for three days straight and not getting any response,” said Speid, the president-elect of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, the teachers’ union.

“As it stands now, it seems like we can’t have school. We will probably purchase some between now and tomorrow, but that is not sustainable at all. We cannot do that with any regularity,” Speid told The Gleaner.

“We have been going through it, just trying to keep the children in school. It was bad since last year, but it is even worse now. What we have to be doing now is to ask one of our watchmen to catch the water and go to the bathroom and flush for us,” he added.

Tarrant Primary and Tarrant High schools were also reported to have had grave shortages this week.

SOME IMPROVEMENT

Principal of Half-Way Tree Primary School, Carol O’Connor-Clarke, expressed similar views, but quickly pointed out that there has been improvement.

“We were having some issues with water, and at the beginning, we were buying water. Now, we are getting water from the NWC.” There is some form of improvement. We have made a connection with the NWC, and they have been coming,” she said.

Charles Buchanan, communications manager at the NWC, admitted that there have been some challenges but urged schools to keep in touch with the agency so that arrangements could be made to supply them with water.

“The NWC is, indeed, encountering significant challenges supplying sections of the Corporate Area as a result of the damage to a critical pipeline, and we also have a few other challenges affecting our operations in other parts of the country,” he said.

“In cases where we have major supply challenges, we normally treat the schools as priority institutions, and we seek to supply them. If we cannot get water into the pipe, then we seek to make trucking arrangements for them,” Buchanan said.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com