By Vernon Khelawan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember those elementary school days when we used the refrain ‘Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink’? This came back sharply to mind when I read about all the fuss being made about state facility the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA).
I also remembered when that facility used to be called the Central Water Distribution Authority (CWDA) in the north. There was a similar agency in South Trinidad, I can’t remember the name right now.
Now, to come almost six decades later to tell the country that a government committee has found that there is so much wrong with the organisation. This must be regarded as a joke.
The report found overstaffing, including management; a lack of accountability; corruption and, most of all, a capitulation of supervision to non-supervisory persons. Nonetheless, it all seems quite familiar to me. The situation as it exists today comes around every ten years or so.
Then there is a pledge to right the wrongs, but it doesn’t take very long for the organisation to slip back into its former practices. And it is not the only government agency/division which falls into that trap.
With this in mind, I wish the new minister a lot of luck in effecting the kinds of changes he hopes to achieve in an organisation that is really a runaway horse that has proven hard to tame.
If I remember correctly, some years ago when somebody in authority threatened to straighten out WASA, there were two fires in the sensitive record-keeping room. Those fires, we have heard nothing about since. Similarly, years ago when the firm Severn Trent tried to correct WASA’s problems, but we saw them take flight. Again, it did not take long for WASA to return to its old ways. That too, the public were never told what really happened.
Far from Godly
Talking about WASA reminds me of cleanliness as it relates to so many water-related local recreational spots all over the country which when in use are treated as garbage heaps.
Appreciation of maintaining such places is not high on our agenda. This simply means that too many of our people have absolutely no regard for their surroundings and by extension the environment.
There is an old saying which I learnt in primary school, ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness.’ If this saying is true, then Trinidad and Tobago is so far removed from things Godly; it’s nothing to sneer at. Now there are many people who would disagree with this analogy believing that Trinidad is still the paradise it used to be and the sister isle Tobago remains in its pristine state.
We are aware that there may be people driving around in their air-conditioned cars and living in their swanky condos and apartments, or even better, in their posh enclaves in homes with ocean views, rich hillside houses. They have no time to notice our garbage-filled streets and open spaces, rotting animal carcasses and fast food containers which dominate the empty plots and many clean areas.
But if these same people were to create an awareness about these conditions and do something about it, then and only then, there might be a societal change. Then the clean-conscious among us, determined to make our small country the pride of the Caribbean, would act.
But the perennial question – what accounts for the tons of garbage which are so regularly removed from our beaches, rivers, and other liming spots, which are available aplenty on both islands?
Let us this year, all together, plan to make Trinidad and Tobago the paradise it could be – the shining star of the Caribbean.