Three weeks without water was just too much to bear for over 120 households in Penal. On Monday morning, the frustrated residents, including a one-legged pundit, risked being arrested and staged a fiery protest to highlight their plight for water.
The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) said the disruption to their supply had to do with the reduced production of the Navet Water Treatment Plant. However, two of the affected residents, chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy and councillor for Penal Shanty Boodram said dry taps in the area is a normal occurrence. They said every time there is a disruption there is a different excuse.
“This is happening constantly for the past three years. During the course of the dry season we could understand the dried taps, but this is the height of the rainy season and our taps are still dry,” the councillor said.
“When residents visit WASA office the response is always, ‘we will look into it.’ When they do send water, it comes late in the night for about two hours, with low pressure so residents on the high points get no supply.
“It is about three weeks to one month since residents of Teemul Trace, Clarke Road and Naipalia Trace, have no water and on Monday morning, in frustration they decided to protest,” Boodram said.
Sammy said he had resorted to collecting rain water for his domestic use.
The protest took place at Clarke Road where residents burnt debris. One resident said the situation was so bad he did not even have water to brush his teeth.
Another said with the July/August vacation now starting, they have children and grandchildren who are home which would require a lot more water use.
Pundit Bhagwandass of the Jeewan Sudhar Ashram Temple who lost a limb due to diabetes, also turned up on his wheelchair, armed with an empty bucket, to protest with his fellow residents.
Pundit Bhagwandass said apart from Sunday services his temple was used for other activities such as yoga, computer and music classes and these activities were being disrupted.
Boodram said it was unfair to the resident who have paid all WASA bills. One pensioner Joe Rampersad, who was threatened with the sale of his property if he was in arrears, promptly went to the WASA office in Penal to pay his bill after the protest.
In a release WASA said mechanical problems at the Navet plant reduced the production causing a disruption in the supply to customers in parts of South East Trinidad, including parts of Penal. Repair works are expected to be completed by Friday, July 13.
WASA said it will be redistributing water from the Caroni Water Treatment Plant and Point Lisas Desalination Plant to minimise the impact of this disruption. It promised a limited truck-borne supply with priority being given to health care institutions and special homes. In the meantime the authority advised customers to efficiently manage their water use.