Padarath: Beginning of the end for WASA

Princes Town MP Barry Padarath.
Princes Town MP Barry Padarath.

PRINCES Town MP Barry Padarath claimed on Friday plans by the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to fire 213 of its managers meant the beginning of the end for WASA. Padarath, the opposition's shadow public utilities minister, rejected statements by Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales that the former UNC-led People's Partnership (PP) coalition government was to blame for the state of affairs at the authority.

He said Gonzales "seems to conveniently forget that the party he belongs to has been in power for several decades and the ballooning of staff and overruns at WASA occurred under the PNM."

Padarath recalled in 2005 that then prime minister Patrick Manning publicly described WASA as a "$27 billion headache."

He said, "The only time we saw greater production levels and upgrade of aging infrastructure was under the PP."

Padarath called on Gonzales to explain "why after seven years of promised transformation that we are now hearing anything about restructuring."

He claimed the only solution Government has to address TT's economic challenges is cost-cutting through massive layoffs.

"Privatisation of WASA and the other utility companies (is) on the horizon."

In a statement on Thursday, Padarath said the UNC has been warning employees and stakeholders at the public utilities companies about what it views as plans by Government to privatise the public utilities sector.

He claimed the statements made by Gonzales at a news conference earlier in the day, to announce restructuring at WASA, were actually a preamble "to axing thousands of WASA employees and very little to do with transforming the sector."

On Thursday, Gonzales said WASA's 426-strong management team will be cut by 50 per cent and its entire top management was replaced last July.

He also said Cabinet has just approved a transformation plan for WASA, to attract the "best and brightest talent" for new management posts to be publicly advertised.

WASA will break the country into five regions – northwest, northeast, central, south and Tobago – each to be run by a regional manager and a water resource agency.

Gonzales promised talks with WASA's recognised majority unions (PSA and NUGFW) before touching the job of any of WASA's 5,000 workers. He said workers will be able to re-tool and re-skill for new positions.

WASA chairman Ravindra Nanga said this was a restructuring exercise and not a retrenchment. He could not say how many workers could be affected.

"Workers in the bargaining unit have absolutely nothing to fear," Nanga said.


"Padarath: Beginning of the end for WASA"

More in this section