The following is from Trinidad and Tobago Express.
Police stoned, roads blocked in water protest
Phoolo Danny Maharaj South Bureau
|fiery unrest: Residents of Los Bajos at Palo Seco walk near burning debris during their protest yesterday over the lack of an adequate water supply. - Photo: KRISHNA MAHARAJ |
HUNDREDS of residents living in villages across the constituency of La Brea caused chaos yesterday, blocking roads with burning debris to protest dry taps.
The protest escalated into a confrontation between police and the people at Los Charos Village late yesterday.
The police tried clearing a blockade and residents responded by throwing rocks and bottles at them.
Police eventually had to leave the area, the Express was told. Residents from Sobo to Santa Flora have gone without a pipe-borne supply of water for months.
WASA acknowledged yesterday that ’the standard of service is not at an acceptable level’, in the protesting villages.
’Accordingly, the authority is currently seeking to bring about reliability in the service by ensuring the existing schedules are met. Areas such as Debe, Sobo Village and Los Bajos are on schedule for a pipe-borne water supply late evening into tonight,’ WASA stated in a media release.
At daybreak, residents blocked the Southern Main Road, La Brea, and set fire to a backhoe that was being used to lay water lines.
The roads at La Brea were cleared early by police and fire officers.
But in the Palo Seco and Santa Flora, police were overwhelmed by the size of the protest.
Before sunrise, residents scattered piles of debris at several locations along the eight-mile stretch from Santa Flora to Rancho Quemado on the San Fernando/Siparia Erin Road causing traffic gridlock.
Workers were unable to leave the area to go to work and pupils and teachers could not get to schools. Some Petrotrin workers from the area could not reach their work place at Santa Flora either. Protesters were supported by members of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union.
Jimmy Kurt, a resident of Quarry Village, said the village never had a pipe-borne supply for more than two hours at any one time, in months.
’They say we will get water on Tuesdays, but they do not open the pressure enough for the supply to reach up the hill in Quarry.’ Santa Flora resident Debbie Norbett said:
’We are experiencing extreme water shortages. WASA has been delivering truck supply to a chosen few. We had no water for five months.’
Theophilus Henry, president of the Los Bajos Village Council, said: ’The people of this area had enough patience with WASA. This is a constituency in crisis.
We have no water to drink, bathe or wash clothes. We have children to look after and to send to school. WASA telling us about booster pump problem, but when booster pumps go bad in the north, WASA fix it very fast. So we want WASA to take two days a week supply from those who get water 24-7 and send it down to us.’’
Henry said residents have been buying water from $150 to $250 from private contractors.
Calls to Member of Parliament Fitzroy Geoffrey went unanswered.