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NWC vows to quench St Ann's thirst

Published:Wednesday | March 24, 2010 | 3:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

The National Water Commission (NWC) has promised residents of Dumbarton and surrounding areas in St Ann a stopgap measure by next week to ease their water dilemma.

The commission has, however, declined to give a timeline on the normalisation of water supply.

"We are trying to construct something to operate by next week, as a temporary solution," the company's corporate communications officer, Julia Gordon, told The Gleaner on Monday.

Gordon said this is expected to supply residents with tap water until the damaged pump, which was disconnected on March 14, is replaced. In the interim, water will continue to be trucked to the residents, Gordon added.

The NWC's response came after approximately 250 protesters blocked the main road leading to Brown's Town Monday morning because of the lack of piped water for a week.

Erroneous allegations

Some residents claim the pump was taken out to be used in St James, with scant regard for them. However, the NWC has denied those allegations, labelling them "highly erroneous", and claiming the pump was damaged beyond repair and a new one was being sourced.

Despite the commission trucking water to affected areas, several residents claim they were still not getting the commodity.

After Monday's demonstration, the NWC renewed its exercise of trucking water to starved communities.

In explaining the delay in replacing the damaged pump, Gordon said the NWC was not in a position financially to store pumps in the event of a breakdown because of the exorbitant costs.

Monday's early-morning protest forced dozens of students travelling to Brown's Town via Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay to miss classes or arrive late, having to travel an alternative route via Bamboo. Many workers were also affected.

By midafternoon, Superinten-dent Gary Griffiths, who is in charge of the St Ann Police Division, reported that all roadways had been cleared for vehicular access, but expressed some concern about the situation.

"The protest was peaceful, for the most part, but I think people are still militant," Griffiths told The Gleaner.

The protesters reportedly used stones and other debris to block the roadway and engaged the police in a cat-and-mouse game as the lawmen tried to restored normality.