Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales asserted on Wednesday that urgent changes to the structure and management of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) were necessary to reduce wastage.
He cited an estimated 3,000 contract and daily-rated workers who could not be found in the organisation.
Speaking on a motion to adopt the report of the Standing Finance Committee in Parliament, Gonzales said $245 million of his ministry's $917 million allocation will go towards paying contract workers.
He noted that on further enquiry, close to 3,000 workers were unaccounted for, describing the situation as severely mismanaged, and said serious changes in the structure of WASA and its policies were needed.
"This is costing the people of Trinidad and Tobago over $600 million.
"Three thousand workers not on the official structure of WASA – that is mismanagement to the highest level, and I am telling you, in my capacity as MP and Minister of Public Utilities, it is going to be very difficult, it is going to be very traumatic – but I am not afraid to work with my colleagues to do whatever it takes to ensure that every MP and their constituents can boast of a reliable water supply."
Gonzales also said WASA's expenditure could be directed elsewhere in operations, citing visits to several facilities where he saw equipment in need of repair and upgrades.
"I can tell you, madam Speaker, there were 56 water treatment plants, 51 water intakes, 237 wells, 123 booster stations – most of them are in a state of disrepair, not producing water up to their full capacity.
"Therefore if we have to turn around the water sector, we have to make the very difficult decision and put a structure that is consistent with a modern water management company."
Despite these challenges, Gonzales commended WASA workers for their dedication to service in the face of the pandemic.
Referring to attempts in February by president of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke to get workers to stay at home as "misguided," he praised the workers for their efforts.