Residents of Long Bay in Portland have lamented the pain they have been experiencing for months due to the lack of adequate running water supply in the community.
They told the Jamaica Observer, during a recent visit to the community, that the lack of running water has caused a lot of disruption and inconvenience in their daily lives. Added to their already unfortunate situation is that a number of the residents have water bills as high as $300,000. Except for one woman, the residents were adamant that they will not be paying those bills.
According to senior citizen Jean Watson, the people are affected severely.
“You can’t get no water to bathe, wash, cook and the authorities have laid some big pipes and nothing not coming through those pipes. Luckily, we have the big blue sea, so we don’t worry about bathing. We bathe at the sea or we catch rain water. The water situation is deplorable. I think they need to improve the reservoir,” said Watson.
With money in hand, a confused Aston Robinson bemoaned that having cash was no guarantee that people will get to buy water from a truck.
“This is $35,000 to buy some water but the truck man seh him naa come because the road bad. We have a dangerous water problem. A likkle rain fall help me out today because a some chicken mi did a pluck and I used one drum of water to pluck dem and wash dem. The system dread out yah suh.”
It was Donnette McDonald’s belief that the practice of billing customers for water they did not use is unfair.
“Day before yesterday mi carry water pon mi head till mi neck hurt mi. It is really unfair for us to pay water bill and still have to buy water. It is terrible,” she said.
Carome Serenash lamented that the poor supply of water has impacted her finances. She started a chicken rearing business but ran into difficulty as a result of the water situation.
“It impacts me be because I raise chickens and I don’t have any chicken from last year October because mi nuh have any water. The rain is not falling enough. I have five tanks and home and three of them are empty.”
“Also, what am I going to do about the bill that they keep sending? What is the way forward? This is a big scam because you are being forced to pay for something you are not getting while you have to pay people to carry water for you. That is unfair.
“It is terrible. Very terrible. Sometimes for months straight you don’t get any water. If the water does come, it stays for two days and then it gone again,” said Serenash.
“I am living here six years now. The year before last, from January there was no water until October. By the middle of October it gone and did not come back again until another long period. Whenever I call them [National Water Commission] they are telling me that I have to pay the bill. I don’t think it is right to be paying for a line that I am not getting any water through. I can show you a bill on my phone for over $160, 000.”
Winnifred Allen explained to the Observer that although she believes it is unfair to bill customers for services that was delivered, she still pays her bill for one simple reason.
“I pay mine because dem seh dem ago connect all the lines together so we will be able fi get water. I don’t want to be in the cut off when time come. Outside of that, I thank God for rain. I was able to fill two drums this morning. We continue to get bills and when we inquire about the bills we are told that the charges are what you call service charge. Every month it mounts. Me see my friends with some $300, 000 water bill and they are not paying it,” Allen said.