Has the BWA Short-changed Barbadians After Benefiting from a 60% Rate Hike in 2009?

The Late Hon. Prime Minister David Thompson

The Late Hon. Prime Minister David Thompson

Barbados Water Authority (BWA) acting senior engineer Stephen Lindo was in the news recently reminding Barbadians, yet again, that the BWA needs to source one billion dollars to fund the replacement of old infrastructure. Another point he made which should be of interest to Barbadians is that the government “would be approaching the IDB for money to buy a number of power generators, which are critical when there is an outage at the Barbados Light & Power Company.”  It is no secret that the BWA is 100% reliant on the Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) for power supply at a time when the Barbados government has articulated that building out alternative energy supply is a national priority. In fact the BWA is reported to use 3.6 million units of electricity each month which equates to approximately 4% of the total output of BL&P.

The press conference by Lindo reminded BU of the address which the late prime minister David Thompson delivered to all employees of the BWA in 2009 over four years ago. His address was made on the eve of the decision by his government to implement a rate hike of 60%. Although the hike became a hot political issue most Barbadians were resigned to the fact the BWA needed funds to improve its plant and customer service. However by now the same Barbadians  would have expected that since Thompson’s speech many deliverables promised would have been deep in the implementation stage.

Here is the late prime minister David Thompson’s 2009 speech (all 48 pages) which summarizes the impotence of the government to improve BWA’s operations now in 2013 – speech delivered to the BWA by the late Prime Minister David Thompson.

Of interest to BU is page 38 and 41 under heading ‘Mains Replacement Programme and Energy Efficient Study” respectively:

The preparatory work to select the most critical mains has been done with frequency of pipe bursts and presence of discoloured water factored into the selection criteria. This programme which was initially estimated at $50M has now been expanded to $150M over a five (5) year period. A programme of this size cannot be executed using BWA employees alone and private sector involvement will be necessary.


The cost of electricity in water operations has been a cause for concern by many water utilities in the Caribbean including the BWA. Accordingly, the IDB has responded to a request by about eight (8) territories including Barbados to finance a consultancy to examine energy consumption in the sector and recommend specific steps to achieve efficient use. The consultant is expected to visit Barbados in July [2009) and will meet with senior officers of the BWA.

The obvious question which any citizen who believes it is their right to hold its government accountable is: what is the status of the action items contained in Thompson’s speech.

34 thoughts on “Has the BWA Short-changed Barbadians After Benefiting from a 60% Rate Hike in 2009?

  1. BWA needs to become self-sustainable. It is not managed to be sustainable, it is structured to be a cash cow for government. Short changing the citizens is an accurate description from the point of view that when we pay our water bills, that money goes straight into the consolidated fund. It becomes like a tax and the money never goes back into developing the BWA, but get swallowed up in overall government spending. Yet we already pay taxes. It is because of this improper management that the BWA finds itself in a bind and has to borrow money. Under its present structure, no argument can be made for the viability of the BWA and any increase would amount to a need for government to raise money and not a result of the need for BWA to become profitable.

  2. Can the BWA give an accountability for the revenues when the rates were increased by 60% ? Rok if it is that the money goes straight to the consolidated fund then the Tax payers of this country are definitely being short-changed big time. In fact we are ALWAYS being short changed!

    • @islandgal

      ROK can advise on this but one of the reasons for the rate hike was to ready the BWA to be regulated BT the FTC. One wonders also where are we as far as this us concerned. In the meantime we the citizens continue to pay.

  3. @ ROK | September 29, 2013 at 2:35 AM |
    “Short changing the citizens is an accurate description from the point of view that when we pay our water bills, that money goes straight into the consolidated fund. It becomes like a tax and the money never goes back into developing the BWA, but get swallowed up in overall government spending.”

    Are you sure about the validity of the above assertion? This is not a topic on which one should make outlandish claims. If what you are saying is a fact (BWA revenues going into the consolidated fund) then this is a case for major concern. But we doubt it. Maybe any surplus (when revenues exceed expenses) but not revenues collected from customers.

    A reliable supply of potable water is the basis of any sustainable society and underpins the socio-economic advancement of Barbados going way back to the early part of the last century
    The point that ought to be focused on is the government’s failure to meet its commitment to consumers after imposing that 60% increase in rates. We suspect the consumers are again being ‘pump-primed’ for another increase using the IADB loan requirements as the ruse to justify another increase.

    Does the government have any plans to reduce both the BWA and the QEH dependency on the BL&P fossil fuel based electricity generation by way of increasing the production of RE especially in the erection of PVs on public buildings for feed into the grid and netted off against the large bills these two public sector consumers incur?

    We suspect the government is playing political games of hopscotch and blind man bluff behind its RE window dressing propaganda. We don’t think this administration is really serious.
    Maybe the failure to find the foreign money for a shipment of oil might be the trigger to force the government to be serious about this RE business.

  4. If the BWA was running an accumulated deficit for a long time, depending on the size of the profits, it would still might still take the Company a couple years to get a sizable retained earnings to re-invest in its operations.

  5. First again let’s get this idea of having necessary services being treated as bottom line activities, transparency and accountability is ALL that should be required …!

    Secondly, any time a Government looks to raise money “to finance a consultancy” it is either for the putting of money in the back pocket of a friend or an excuse to use money that has been granted from a foreign government to put money into the back pocket of the overseas government’s friend. Other than for a report, nothing else comes of it.

    And thirdly, the 60% hike in rates that was afforded the BWA was done in anticipation of the rate hike that was “planned” for the BL&P before it’s sale to an overseas entity. Again IT WAS A DONE DEAL …! BL&P of course represents BWA largest (by far) operational expense …!

  6. David
    “transparency and accountability” that is all I ask for. It is an essential service, and I will not even be concerned if it was provided for free … (like that of the office of Prime Minister and others, which is NOT an essential service …)

    • It should be evident by now that this DLP government like the BLP before it does not have the appetite to implement any form of transparency legislation.

  7. “It should be evident by now that this DLP government like the BLP before it does not have the appetite to implement any form of transparency legislation”
    David the people may be brass bowls ….but they are not suicidal. 🙂

  8. Correct. Had there been transparency in the first place there would have been no BL&P FTC hearings firstly to adjust the asset register and then to adjust the rate so that it could be sold to an identified overseas buyer and the BWA’s rates would not have been adjusted to compensate for the increase expense. Had there been transparency the truly productive (product based) among us would be encouraged and the consuming public would not be sold as a commodity to overseas interests.

    This process is f#cked …

    • And the hapless taxpayers continue to foot the bill while the BL&P Directors smile all the way to a soft landing with their golden windfall.

  9. @ BAFBFP | September 29, 2013 at 11:32 AM |
    “And thirdly, the 60% hike in rates that was afforded the BWA was done in anticipation of the rate hike that was “planned” for the BL&P before it’s sale to an overseas entity. Again IT WAS A DONE DEAL …! BL&P of course represents BWA largest (by far) operational expense …!”

    You, BAF, are too smart for your own good. The curse of smartness is material poverty. You know how to join up the dots. Why don’t you do like Sir Hilary Beckles and join the band of exploiters? You might just get rich and be rewarded with a knighthood before the Queen joins the eternal list of the passing parade.

    Now that the vital importance of the BWA & QEH as major customers to the BL&P we can now see through the smoke and mirrors of the government RE propaganda blitzkrieg around elections and ‘pamphleteered’ in their manifestos and throne speech propaganda leaflets. The stark reality is now facing the propagandists as they seek to backpedal from their previous RE call to arms. Let us not focus on Darcy; he is just the messenger boy and fall guy for a few pieces of silver.

    We need to hear more from you where this BWA / BL&P nexus is concerned.

    • Interesting to BU as well is that at the same press conference held by Lindo he stated that the BWA will be canvassing participants to raise finance (remember that 1 billion dollars?) at the upcoming Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association to be held at the Hilton Barbados next month.

  10. @ David | September 29, 2013 at 2:12 PM |

    Is Lindo also canvassing for the job of GM? Appears so to many. He is delving into the realm of policy formulation and finance.



  12. Are we (they) dun yet ?

    Last week I awoke to find this dude taking extra long to read my meter, so I went downstairs to ask a question. …I was reliably informed that this was no ordinary visit to read the meter, but a conditional survey of the necessities that will be involved in putting on a NEW METER…..I was told that “more accuracy” would entail as to my water usage and hence a better costing of product…Imagine dat doa ….mo money coming on D bill.. NIV interpretation

    As for that fella Thompson….why if I recall too…..the vehicle registration was raised from $ 100 to $800 for my SUV and $ 400 for the 15 yrs jollopy..when we were told by the Thompo back in 2008.. it would be a temporary measure ..18 months D most…..

    Let’s face it…..I far from dun yet…unna watch !


    Your idea of a women’s party for Barbados is a very progressive one at this stage.

    It must be commended.

    It is far better to get support for such a party via this blog site and many other fora than to waste time on issues that cannot lead to the securing of a social cause.

    Thus, your time will be wisely spent seeking to establish a party that will, et al, look at the fundamental interest of the female gender in the politics of this country.

    Down with the Damned DLP and the Blasted BLP.


  14. And together we stand at life’s crossroads
    And view what we think is the end,
    But God has a much bigger vision
    And he tells us it’s only a bend–

    For the road goes on and is smoother,
    And the “pause in the song” is a “rest,”
    And the part that’s unsung and unfinished
    Is the sweetest and richest and best–

    So rest and relax and grow stronger,
    Let go and let God share your load,
    Your work is not finished or ended,
    You’ve just come to “a bend in the road.”

    Helen Steiner Rice

    Fa true……Da is wha u tink …..ask MOF ..I hear he just left the UK, by now landing in LAX Los Angeles… covert mission to RAISE FINE Ants…whaloss!

    Kim Fu Puck…..LOL

  15. Thanks PDC
    Wonder if ac would support the Women’s Party of Barbados( WPB) -she is caught with the DLP

    I think that it would be a worthwhile venture and I think that the Women of Barbados should really stand up and be counted. If indeed they want a time to shine, now is that time.

    The time for the WPB is now or is that NOW



    So they have a name.They have a slogan. Do they have the will. I know that they have the competence. I know that for sure. With people like Marion Williams, in the background helping to lay the foundation, the WPB can become a reality. Of course Barbados is a leader in the Caribbean. They need to seize the moment.

    There is absolutely no reason why it cant happen.
    Maybe this is a more a premonition than a call for them to do it meaning therefore that it will happen

  16. The BWA tiefing people money
    I know of bills that just triple for no reason
    This happens every now and then, lets say three times a year
    It goes up every time and then goes back down for absolutely no other reason than the people at BWA deciding to tief they tief

  17. BWA-CHANGE MY METER and the next month bill came to $260 with last month being $120 .now my bills were always between $40 to $50–but most interesting I saw the meter reader a morning reading meters in my area would you believe he just stood up look and the meters and enter the so call readings

  18. I have lodge a complaint and have been monitoring the readings when the next bill comes that will confirm that the meter readings are wrong -then I shall take it much further .

  19. I remember a visit to Aruba back in the 90’s. … a water scare country….the shower head in the hotel was a one spout bore hole ting that cud pass thru the eye of a needle…..best of all it timed to shut off after 3 mins dunn or no dunn….towels were then used to wipe if you failed to complete a shower….looks like summa these days soon coming to BIM ..difference is by consumer’s choice. Min chrg on water now is $30 per month….this is more than adequate for a single person or someone living on a pensioners budget…we were also told 80 % of all water is non billable….fix the damm leaks den and stop penalizing us for a system flaw… just look and see the paper chase ($$) by the 60% increase…nothing was achieved then but Estwick memo to ignore Oz…..nothing again will after all this adze….top will continue to spin pun mudd.

  20. Wait ….I hear right ..Bus fares gine up to $3…? Bare shiite den….Cut D minister salary FIRST….talk bout watlessness..Cut D Constituency Councils allotments of $ 3million ..cut the Football madness….but doan cut QEH supplement…where is ur sense of priority?…..

  21. Only this morning, 30 September, 2013, have I sent off a letter referring to this topic to the other newspapers in this country. Not only are Mr. Lindo’s comments telling, but there is to be a high-level conference of the Caribbean Water and Waste Association to be hed at the Hilton from 06 to 11 October. The President of the Association, O’Reilly Lewis, stated at a news conference at the BWA’s Project Execution Unit, Manor Lodge, St. Michael: “There are challenges facing the water sector including aging infrastructure which require urgent replacement, inadequate tariffs for the sustainable provision of water services …” The last phrase mentioned is what got my attention. If that does not mean that we should expect another hike in water rates, then I do not know what else would! It sticks out like a bull in a china shop, and I headed my letter “Brace yourselves for another hike in water rates”:

  22. “will authorize all necessary programmes, geared at positively changing attitudes and enhancing service delivery.
    I want each and everyone of you to keep your jobs and to be a part of this challenging yet exciting period that lies ahead for the BWA. But you are going to have to make a greater effort.
    You are going to have to draw that proverbial line in the sand. You are going to have to step up to the plate as far as delivery of quality product and service is concerned.
    You have asked for additional resources, which translate into higher rates to the consumer, and I have agreed.
    Water rates will be increased effective July 1st. I expect that in a matter of days, certainly by next Thursday, the technical officials would have made their recommendation and the Cabinet of Ministers deliberated thereon.
    Certainly, by next Thursday evening, Barbadians will know the exact rate of increase of water. But, of whom much is given, much will also be expected.
    I am going to the public of Barbados in hard, economic times and asking for an increase in water rates. I do so with the understanding that you, the staff of the BWA, will, by your attitude and aptitude, justify that increase.
    I sense from my interaction with a wide cross section of people in this country, that there is general agreement with the principle of an increase in rates.
    But, the public also want an improvement in product and service. They want to see a more user-friendly BWA. They want to see a more responsive BWA. They want to see a practical and commonsense BWA.
    Attainment of this will depend on the collective effort and output of all interest groups, especially you the workers and your bargaining agent, the trade union.
    If I am to protect your jobs and to deliver much needed financial and other resources, you in turn have got to cut me and the public of Barbados some slack and work with us in improving the overall quality, availability and management of our water and water resources.
    We need a paradigm shift in how we approach the business of service delivery.
    I spoke earlier of 24 hour work days and the need for us to cut out this notion, I was tempted to say nonsense, of overtime work at overbearing rates.
    The workers of the BWA must work with the public of Barbados in the interest of Barbados. By the same token, I take this opportunity to appeal to consumers to ease off the BWA. Support the BWA!
    Give the workers your fullest cooperation. Over the course of the next three years, there will be a virtual revolution in water recovery, management and distribution in Barbados.
    The success of these programmes will depend in large measure on the cooperation and support of all Barbadians. This is an initiative we can no longer delay. It is change we must embrace!
    I do not think I need to dwell on this issue any longer. The challenge is made to you, the management and staff of the BWA, to justify the imminent increase in water rates by improving, expanding and generally enhancing the level and quality of product and service offered by the BWA.
    The public of Barbados is called upon to play its part in facilitating those improvements.
    With these slightly more than few words, I call on all stakeholders in the procurement and distribution of waters resources in Barbados to step up to the plate, roll back your shirt sleeves and let us all get down to the task of securing for Barbados a high quality and reliable water and water management service.
    I thank you!
    17th June 2009”

    What a load of political bull to justify the imposition of a rate hike- the reason for the increase seems to have been laid squarely on the shoulders of the management and staff of the BWA

  23. Long time now we call a SPADE a SPADE…….what D hell unna accept the positions for if unna failing at every turn…..Barbadians deserve more….everyday something else gine up! This is bare shiite den….Ever hear one day the bottom of the bucket must fall out?..PEOPLE smellin hell….Do something and stop playing wid people’s welfares…BAJANS DESERVE BETTER !

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