Duke’s big flop

BACK TO WORK: WASA workers head back to work after the all-clear was given after an alarm was triggered at the utility’s St Joseph head office on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -
BACK TO WORK: WASA workers head back to work after the all-clear was given after an alarm was triggered at the utility’s St Joseph head office on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -


This could best describe Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke’s call to WASA workers to take a “holiday” on Tuesday from work, to show their displeasure at Government’s recent overhaul of the management structure at the state utility.

In fact, a fire alarm which mysteriously went off at noon at WASA’s Farm Road, St Joseph head office yesterday, gave the media ample visual proof that Duke’s call had been roundly ignored as dozens of employees gathered at the muster point, while a check was made of the building. When the all-clear was given, workers returned to their posts.

When contacted for comment, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said he suspected mischief afoot in the tripping of the alarm and later applauded WASA workers for ignoring Duke’s call to take the day off.

Duke, who last week and even up to Monday, held press conferences calling for war on Minister Gonzales, could not be reached for comment throughout the day on Tuesday.

Duke had urged WASA workers to send a clear message to Government after Gonzales announced last week that recommendations from a Cabinet sub-committee, to improve WASA’s supply and make the authority more efficient, were being adopted.

One of the recommendations is for WASA to be replaced with a water management company with a revised water sector model. That transition would take three years.

The minister last week announced that Alan Poon King was removed as WASA CEO with Cabinet deciding to appoint the utility’s chairman Lennox Sealy as executive director and CEO. Poon King, who acted as CEO for four years, has reverted back to his previous post as director of customer services.

The management shake-up came after the Prime Minister chaired a special sitting of Cabinet convened to discuss the Cabinet sub-committee’s report on WASA’s operations. The sub-committee was formed last August and was chaired by Gonzales with a report sent to Dr Rowley on December 11 and then to the Cabinet on January 11.

On Sunday, Gonzales implored workers not to be misled by Duke, claiming the PSA head was seeking his own interest. Gonzales said he was elated to announce that WASA workers reported to work and it was business as usual at the utility.

“I have never had any doubt or fear that the workers were against the transformation of WASA. I have been talking to workers at all levels and the vast majority are in support of the transformation. They are not happy with the state of affairs and believe the time has come for a restructuring. I always knew they would not take basket from Duke,” he said.

He said Duke was fighting a war against himself and changes at WASA are happening, whether the PSA leader agrees with them or not.

Gonzales said the only untoward event on Tuesday was when unknown persons dumped dirt into the upstream leading to the Caroni water treatment plant around 7 am. Investigations are underway into that incident. Although WASA said in a release that customers were advised there wasn’t any contamination to the supply leaving this plant, people took to social media, just after 2 pm, with videos showing dark brown water flowing through their taps. WASA promised to have the issue fixed as quickly as possible.


"Duke’s big flop"

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