Barbados Water Management In A Mess

The recent appointment of former Senator Arni Walters as Executive Chairman of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has raised more than a few eye-brows. Given his extensive experience working in the labour market, one would have assumed his skills would have been needed in the position he was just removed. After all, the economy is expected to contract over the near term in a global economy which continues to behave sluggish. The other side to the argument some say, the government sees the organizational restructuring and transformation needed at a BWA in shambles as priority number one.

The poor state of the  financial and management structure at the BWA which has reached a crisis state  in recent months is an embarrassment to the country to say the least. It seems idiotic that during the boom years this most important state enterprise would have been neglected to the point which led it to being insolvent under the current administration. Perhaps Barbadians should have taken note when the BWA was excluded from the oversight of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) when it was established under the former government. The argument given for the exclusion by some at the time was  that the government wanted to shield the less well off in the society from water rates driven by purely economic considerations. Given the financial state at the BWA it is conceivable that an FTC imposed rate may have been more burdensome.

The decision by the government at the time to enter into an agreement with Ionics Freshwater Ltd in hindsight was part of an ad hoc water management strategy at best. The Ionics water desalination plant is designed to provide fresh, potable drinking water to one-sixth of the island’s 264,000 people. The 30,000 cubic meter per day (7.9 million gallons per day) plant utilizes reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology. We learned recently from Minister Lowe who has responsibility for the BWA that the government is contracted to pay Ionics Freshwater Ltd 10 million dollars annually. Minister Lowe expressed the view the price is too high. We all look forward to when the agreement expires originally set for 15 years.

It seems prophetic in 2000 when then Chairman of the BWA David Millington was quoted as saying, the Barbados Government was determined that the island’s economic development would not be held back by the lack of availability of fresh water. Ten years late the BWA has descended to such a state of inefficiency that a government fighting a recession had to levy a 60% hike in water rates to generate adequate cashflow to fund the urgent restructuring and transformational program needed at the BWA. The big question on our minds, why did we not take a similar decision in the boom years? Possibly in the boom period the restructuring could have occurred under less onerous conditions.

As if the gods are expressing displeasure, Barbados is currently experiencing a severe drought which is beginning to prod Barbadians to the fact that water must not be taken for granted. The biggest joke we heard recently indicated that the largest monthly expense at the BWA is for electricity. Why is it a country blessed with sunshine all year would see previous governments not being inventive in determining a power supply at the BWA not based on oil? Imagine the foreign exchange Barbados could have saved if the BWA was powered by solar energy?

We have encourage a large middleclass to build nice homes in built up neighbourhoods yet the idea that water tanks should be part and parcel of the house building continues to be taken for granted. How intelligent are we as a people, how successful can we say previous governments have been when that most precious resource has been so woefully mismanaged through the years?

Developed status by 2015 somebody big toe!

17 comments

  • The BWA is another of Arthur’s legacy.

    Where is all the money he had to do the pipe replacement.

    Instead he packed up the BWA with party people and gave people like stedson babb big job as Public Relations chief,while the lone water supply company was starving for cash.

    When will this DLP government open up to the public about whose these consultants are that Owen placed in every ministry and state organisation.

    Denzil Agard as consultant at rural;

    Peter Simmons brother of former chief justice david simmons as consultant at CBC;

    Mark Williams one of the many consultants in the prime minister’s office;

    Owen paying his personal assistant victor money not allowed or accounted for from the taxpayer’s purse;

    And on and on.

    This is the man who is going around telling the public he has the ideas to run this country successfully.

    The tiefing and wastage,and cronyism by the BLP/Owen Arthur led government has set back this country 50 years.

    In any developed country people like owen,mia,glyne, dale,george payne,liz thompson,reggie farley;o’brien trotman and the like will be in jail instead of strutting around like peacocks and spending stolen taxpayer’s monies in plain sight.

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  • Let us not forget the thieving at the BWA which involved Dale Miller. As you would expect not a day. It speaks to the flaw in the management system up there in the Pine.

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  • Atlee Brathwaite get fired.

    That solves the problem of legal issue.

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  • Walters will change nothing.

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  • Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: Water Response

  • In light of the recent moves in and out of the BWA, I thought I’d provide the most likely scientific explanation:

    University of The West Indies researchers have discovered the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (symbol=Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

    These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called pillocks. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

    A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete. Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2 to 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

    In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as a critical morass.

    When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (symbol=Ad), an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium, since it has half as many pillocks, but twice as many morons.

    BWA…Q.E.D.

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  • Note this blog does not even deal with the sewage system. While the South Coast Sewage system is in place, it is our understanding the waste on the West Coast finds its way into sea.

    If we are talking about attaining developed status and giving consideration to the fact that our environment is key to managing our tourist product. Needless to say we should be managing our ecosystem out of a sense of what is right.

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  • @ Inkwell. That was an amazing analogy. As a man of science I was cracking ….until tears. Keep them coming man.

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  • Given the huge sum of money allocated to bring the BWA out of the stone age, why not put a man a charge who has project management skills and perhaps a finance background to oversee the restructuring? Are these skills onboard at the BWA already?

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  • I understand that there is still asbestos water pipes in parts of St. Andrew.

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  • @ Confusion

    Dr. Atlee Brathwaite is/was a non-executive Chairman firing him is legal, in such positions one serves at the pleasure of the Minister. Any illegality relates to the post of General Manager who legally is the most senior officer at the BWA, though not on paper as Mr. Walters is now Executive Chairman.

    As I have said before, executive chairs are obsolete.

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  • Donald Duck, Esq

    sell the water authority

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  • Blame Arthur for everything
    blame
    blame
    blame

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  • Down with the Damned DLP and the Blasted BLP!!

    Both these political factions have been responsible for many of the political, administrative, organizational and financial problems at the Barbados Water Authority ( BWA) – the sole institutional supplier of commercial water to tens upon tens of thousands of homes, businesses and other places in this country.

    However, The BWA is not the only statutory corporation where endemic gross DLP and BLP mismanagement has long manifested itself. For, there are some other very inefficient statutory corporations where there has long been gross and reckless DLP and BLP mismanagement. And some ones that readily come to mind are the National Housing Corporation ( NHC); the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation ( CBC); the Barbados Transport Board (BTB), and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital ( QEH).

    The fact is that many of the old ramshackled political, administrative, organizational and financial policies, procedures, methods and objectives archaic that both DLP and BLP Governments would have either put in place or continued with from colonial days ( and yes taking into the consideration the history of the operations of these statutory corporations ) are now being exposed more than ever before for many people in Barbados to see the great extent of their own impracticalities, their own irrelevance and their mismanagement by the DLP/BLP.

    While we understand that the BWA has its own peculiar organizational problems the fact of the matter is that the entirety of government run public services in this country is and has long been exhibiting evidence of similar patterns or cultures of wanton partisan politicalization, inefficiency, wastage, and deep rooted disorganization to those found at the BWA.

    Hence, a careful observation and study of such government run public services would therefore indicate that the operations of ALL statutory institutions or enterprises are and have dastardly been contributing to too much government and too much political interference in the lives of the people in this country. Such unsavoury totalitarianistic trends, no doubt, carry with them severe problems of their own, esp. as they relate to a lack of freedom to create additional ideas and innovation and a lack of corresponding structures to see them prosper.

    Our PDC policy with regard to the entire operations of ALL these statutory institutions or enterprises in Barbados is that they must be closed down as part of a process of reducing government to the appropriate levels in this country, and that new ones, where necessary, must take their places with leaner more modern people-focussed revenue-autonomous cost-conscious ( the latter does NOT apply to what is now called the QEH though ) missions, capabilities and structures implanted into them.

    Furthermore, a serious analysis of all government run public services would also indicate that the statutory legal and institutional framework which still sees and have long seen persons being placed within statutory corporations as employees is totally anachronistic and regressive and more than ever marginalizes and alienates these workers with this same sickening state DLP BLP union driven environment. Therefore, these very odious and backward events and processes have impacted signicantly, and more adversely than positively, on the overall performances and outputs of these persons in these statutory corporations and no doubt by extension on the entire performances and outputs of the government run public services in the context of the wider productive and distributive affairs of the country.

    Therefore, our PDC policy as it relates to these persons and relevant others continuing to contribute to the business of the state performing a leading role in the country in the managing of business corporate social legal services (all in one)and by extension they ( these persons and the relevant government run entities then ) continuing to contribute to greater levels of overall production and distribution of goods and services in the country, is that, a future PDC Government will transform all present day ministries, departments, statutory corporations of the CROWN/MINISTRY into divisions and subsidiaries of a new state management entity that will be owned by persons operating as partners and that will itself be charged with the business of managing and operating the affairs of the state. Such partners will have great say in how these divisions and subsidiaries are run, and will be remunerated in dividends/profits weekly, or when ever agreed to. At the political helm of such an entity will be a A NATIONALLY ELECTED PRESIDENTIAL HEADED COALITONAL EXECUTIVE CABINET made up of persons elected from parties, non-party political groups and independents. Indeed, and quite naturally, there will be the Abolition of the Queen as Head of State of this country by a future PDC Government!! Also, we really urge the people of this country to remove the DLP and BLP from this political landscape if our political environment is to become free of DLP and BLP inspired problems.

    And, finally for now, another set of profound analyses of the manner in which ALL statutory corporations are and have over the years been subsidized in this country would reveal that the means by which this is done is evil, archaic and unconstitutional. The subsidization of these statutory corporations is via the TAXATION process, which is evil, archaic and unconstitutional. The more and more these statutory corporations become inefficient and wasteful and unproductive, the more and more the overall money value cost and debt is to these wretched DLP BLP Governments who then daily monthly yearly will steal millions upon millions of dollars worth of countless portions of the incomes of so many of the relevant people, businesses and others in this country to criminally fund these enterprises, and who then whenever will borrow excessively millions and millions of dollars locally and internationally, to help bankroll finance enterprises that really do not deserve these incomes and dollars. Therefore, the more and more – rather than fewer and fewer – state operations there are in the country – the more and more inefficient, wasteful and unproductive the government run public services will be, and the more and more the evils of TAXATION and unnecessary borrowings will be – well until a PDC Government comes about!!!. Of course, such things impact very very profoundly negatively on the functioning of the more efficient rational private owned and run commercial business social services of the country.

    Therefore, the PDC policy as it relates to the manner in which state divisions and subsidiaries and state or state-private ventures under a future PDC Government will be financed, will, et al, be through offering shares to the publics; through their earning – fairly and properly – their own revenues; or through the state transferring profits from profitable state partnership enterprses to ones that are in need of such money value; or via the state – under the national non-payable productive loans scheme being able to access (loans) productive money/value from financial institutions – wherefore it will NOT have to repay such money value – thus it or they having that capacity to directly finance them.

    These policies will also be hemmed in by a greater policy that will make it abundantly clear that where the state will NOT have the means to the repay any non-productive loans, or the means to successfully prosecute business in certain or any areas – it will surely be required to conduct its financial affairs within its own means and to conduct business within its own means.

    So, there you have it!!

    It is simply downright inadequate and deficient for this wretched DLP Government to be seen by many people in Barbados to be dealing primarily with some existing fundamental endemic administrative organizational and financial problems at the BWA in a piecemeal superficial ad hoc way re the installation of an EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, ETC, rather than for it to be seen by those same people as being studied, thorough/comprehensive and efficient in the manner of recognizing that there are many similar problems elsewhere in many statutory corporations in the country, and that greater political scientific and altrustic approaches are in need of being taken at this time to help partially or wholly solve many of those political and other problems.

    Also, it is clear that multi-disciplinary solutions to many of these problems are required, and will be so required, esp. with a view to the successful transformation and restructuration of the ways how the business of organizing and managing and financing the affairs of the state and by extension other sectors of the country have been done over the years, being seen as very central and critical to planning for and realizing of greater and further actual growth and development of the affairs of this country.

    PDC

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  • ~~7-10 CAP. 274A Barbados Water Authority L.R.O. 1985 6

    Administration

    7. (I) There shall be a Board of Directors of the Authority
    which is responsible for the policy and general administration of
    the Authority.

    (2) The Schedule applies to the appointment and constitution
    of the Board and otherwise in relation thereto.

    8. The Directors of the Board are entitled to such
    remuneration and allowances as the Minister determines.

    9. (1) The Board may with the approval of the Minister,
    appoint a person to be General Manager of the Authority, who
    shall be an employee of the Authority.

    (2) The General Manager is subject to the directions of the
    Board and is responsible to the Board for the execution and
    management of the affairs of the Authority.

    SCHEDULE
    1. (1) Subject to paragraph 3 the Board must consist of not less than 7
    nor more than 11 members to be designated Directors and appointed by the
    Minister by instrument in writing from among persons who have recognised
    standing, knowledge and experience in matters relating to engineering, law,
    trade, finance, administration, labour relations, health and agriculture.

    (2) The Minister must appoint 2 Directors to be respectively Chairman
    and Deputy Chairman of the Board.

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  • Word on the street is that someone carry away a lot of money from BWA but because of who it is they wont see a day in Dodds,so we will have to go down the usual road and tax the citizens fresh and implement whatever strategies to recoup that stolen money….again,same old same old.

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  • You all think you know. But you know nothing

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