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.