Vaz lobbying to alleviate water woes in Portland
Member of Parliament for West Portland Daryl Vaz says he is continuing to lobby for water availability in the parish.
His comments follow several protests in communities in the constituency over a lack of water and ongoing dust nuisance from road work currently under way.
Vaz, during a press conference on Wednesday, said $10 million has been spent on trucking water to residents throughout the parish from January to April, and another $10 million has been projected to be spent from May to June.
However, he said this is neither cost-effective nor impactful.
“What is important for me is that the municipal corporation and the water commission take two policy decisions, that is to serve the entire community. In a drought such as this, you cannot be discriminatory in terms of being able to serve only customers, paying customers, because you are not satisfying the demand of the water,” he said.
Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, meanwhile, outlined significant investment totalling $800 million that has been made in the water infrastructure in Portland as part of the South Coast Highway project.
Additionally, he said the Government would break ground in the next fiscal year to commence a $3.9-billion upgrade work on the Grants Level well in the parish
He shared that bids for a $20-million pump procurement for the Mount Pleasant system is expected to be on the table next week, and the pumps were to be installed in two months.
Stating that the wells at the Sherwood Forest system have been impacted by the drought, the minister disclosed that a $12-million study to identify additional water sources is under way. Once the studies are completed, and licences are issued by the Water Resources Authority, then the Government will commence development of wells in the area at a cost of $30 million.
Samuda also announced that a new source of water has been identified in the Fairy Hill division which will provide 300,000 gallons a day, seven days a week.
“We’re not taking for granted that while this work is taking place, people can do without water,” he said, adding that, in the interim, water is being trucked to affected areas.
APPEALS FOR MORE PR WORK FROM NWC
In the meantime, Vaz appealled to the National Water Commission to increase its public relations effort so residents can know when water will be trucked or piped to their communities.
While acknowledging that the road work taking place has been a source of frustration for residents, Vaz criticised the contractor, and the National Works Agency (NWA) for what he described as inadequate supervision.
“For the level of money that is being spent, I openly say that the supervision of these road works are unacceptable not because of the quality of work, but unacceptable because of the maintenance of the temporary roads and the dust nuisance,” he said.
Forty-three kilometres of road work is to be completed in Portland at a cost of $10 billion. The work is being completed in three phases; phase one has already been completed, phase two is expected to be completed in October, and the final phase by the end of 2024.
According to Vaz, he has made representation to the NWA, which he said has agreed to oil the roads that are currently being worked on immediately. This, he asserted, would lessen the dust nuisance.
“There seems to be some sort of a confusion or mix-up where an MP often get the blame for things that they have no control over, we lobby for better infrastructure, but we have no control over the implementation and supervision of such,” he said.