Importing Water from Suriname and the Right to Know
It has been a few days Barbadians were alerted to the decision by the Barbados government about an arrangement with Amazone Resources to transport a maximum of 2 million litres of water to Barbados. It is an open secret the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has been struggling to supply water to Barbadians living on the rock -especially in the Northern parishes with St. Joseph the hardest impacted.
The CEO Auke Piek of Amazone Resources was quoted in the media:
[he] would like to have the launch of the flexbag on November 21 or 22 and after that, it will be sent to Barbados with drinkable surface water from the rivers. The journey should take four to five days, using a tugboat to pull the floating flexbag/flextank … We will test, through our trial, how the water behaves during transportation.
It came as no surprise to the BU household to learn about yet another agreement consummated behind the backs of Barbadians in the dead of the night by this government. To make matters more interesting, several local news sources reported that the minister of water resources David Estwick and the general manager of the BWA Dr. John Mwansa denied the initial report.
However in light of subsequent reports from the BWA that confirmed an experimental shipment of water was approved by the BWA with the Suriname company Amazone Resources to test the feasibility of freighting water to Barbados under safe conditions in the event of a future need. The MOU with Amazone Resources did not include offloading the water in Barbados.
One wonders why the authorities in Barbados retreated to a defensive reaction when the news broke initially. Why didn’t the management make a quick decision to get ahead of the story if the agreement with Amazone was about contingency in the event the BWA is unable to supply potable water to Barbadians if drought conditions continue to adversely affect water generation. In fact the bigger concern is why did the management of water resources in Barbados not think it prudent to share the information with Barbadians when the MOU was signed off? Why the culture of governance by stealth.
Now that Barbadians have learned about the plan to barge water to Barbados, what is next? Who will tell us?
However, it was agreed that due to a lack of existing infrastructure in Barbados for the receipt of the water, storage and pumping and the need to establish the necessary water quality standards and importation control measures, the water in the barge would not be offloaded – Barbados Water Authority
Surely there is more information the BWA needs to share with the taxpayers of Barbados about the MOU between the BWA and Amazon.
The concern some have expressed is that Suriname has been tagged as a country where the risk of contracting Zika is very high. What screening infrastructure would Barbados have to implement to protect Barbadians from exposure to infectious diseases from Suriname and elsewhere if the decision to barge water to Barbados becomes a reality.
The Barbadian public has a right to know what our government is doing from those who were elected to serve them. We have not forgotten this DLP government ran on a ticket of a transparency government not too long ago.