Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
EWARTON, St Catherine:THOUGH HE harboured thoughts of becoming a soldier when he was younger, 31-year-old Orden Walden of Polly Ground in Ewarton, St Catherine, is now a farmer.
He rears livestock and cultivates a variety of cash crops including cabbage, corn, red peas, cassava, sweet potato, pumpkin, and pepper on leased land in the community.
"Farming can make money. The more you invest, the more you gain," he shared with our news team as he guided a tour of his farm.
At present, he has 300 chickens, 30 pigs and a number of goats. Prior to farming, Walden worked in the construction industry, but he was not satisfied with being an employee.
"Mi nuh really like work with people," the Ewarton High School alumnus said, laughing. "Mi like be my own boss. That's why I chose farming," he added.
Moreover, his passion for farming, which was also practised by his parents, has been propelling him to expand his business, which provides occasional employment. However, the non-existence of piped water in the community has caused him to delay his decision.
"I have to buy at least $3,000 worth of water every week because a more than 10 years now me nuh see water come in the pipe," bemoaned Walden.
PROBLEM NOT NEW
Lack of piped water in Polly Ground and surrounding areas in Ewarton is an age-old problem.
"A years now dis a gwaan and mi nuh see dem a do nutten fi wi get water," an irate female in her early 30s, holding a baby in her arms, told our news team during a recent visit to the community decorated with several black tanks.
Seventy-year-old Ivy Pottinger, a member of a family of 10, said she was puzzled by a bill she received sometime last year, even though she wasn't getting the commodity.
"Dem seh mi owe $52,000 and mi seh to dem seh me cannot owe dat 'cause how much years now me nuh get a little water. A buy wi affi a buy water," Pottinger said.
A male member of Pottinger's family explained that each week, he buys buy three barrels and two 450-gallon tanks of water.
"We pay $2,100 for that, and it serves about five days - if we use it carefully. The water problem wicked 'round here. A buy wi have to buy water," he explained.
In fact, over the years, that's how residents have been accessing water, and those like 55-year-old 'Beverley', who are unable to buy the commodity from the truck, depend on another source.
"When rain fall, me catch water and bottle it up, but when it finish, me have a hard time again," the unemployed caregiver of five remarked.
On the other hand, a 70-year-old man, who wished to remain anonymous, complained that even persons who have money to buy water experienced a challenge.
"I get a bill for $77,000 and I told them that I'm not paying it because I cannot even get the truck to come down where I live to buy the water. The driver told me that the truck is assigned to one lane in Polly Ground," he complained bitterly.
They expressed dissatisfaction with the level of representation by their member of parliament, Robert Pickersgill.
But councillor of the Ewarton division, Beverly Jobson-Grant, who has been a strong advocate of the residents' plight during St Catherine Parish Council meetings, disclosed that the National Water Commission (NWC) has had several futile engagements with the desperate residents.
She said in March this year, the NWC informed the residents that an audit would be conducted with a view to supplying piped water to the area.
"They said they were doing an audit of the system to identify leaks, water loss, broken mains, and so on. They said, by this time, we would have some water, but up to now, I don't see any," she told The Gleaner.