'We need water'

Corporate Area, St Catherine residents bemoan lack of commodity

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, December 27, 2018

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WATER restrictions in several communities across the Corporate Area and St Catherine on Christmas Day tempered festivities as residents desperately sought to secure the now scarce commodity.

Residents of 'Brook Valley' and Sherlock Crescent in Duhaney Park, St Andrew, formed lines by a communal tap to fill containers as well as to shower, while others opted to do their laundry and cook a the location, the Jamaica Observer was told yesterday during a visit to badly affected areas.

One resident, who gave her name as Elaine Cummings, said that her community has been having water issues for approximately four months, and that in the last three weeks things have worsened.

“Is about four months now it on again, off again. It come 2 o'clock before day, and by 5:30 [am] it gone. The likkle weh wi store wi affi use it; it finish, so now wi affi find some well guh catch water. Wi affi a walk and search fi find some low pipes and full up wi container. By wi full dem up and carry dem home, dem finish. Mi affi walk far guh find people yard weh have water and get a likkle shower,” the woman said.

“It's rough. The whole day yesterday (Christmas Day) nobody don't cook. For the whole day nobody nuh cook, a KFC wi eat. The whole a Kingston 20 nuh have nuh water,” she added.

But a Sherlock Crescent resident, who gave his name only as Marlon, is concerned that a number of health issues might arise as residents are being forced to improperly dispose of household waste.

“We affi a guh one place name 'Back Bush' guh catch likkle water and bathe inna pan — flash up. Wi affi a join line fi bathe. Wi affi get up and go 'round there early a morning time, 3 o'clock and 5 o'clock, fi go bathe. A 'round deh wi wash; a 'round deh suh wi do everything. Anytime you want to use the bathroom a di bucket yuh affi use. Wi go 'round deh and full the bucket fi flush the toilet. Some use bag and that a ghetto lifestyle. A serious thing me a tell you.

“By the time you come from work, tired, you affi go 'round deh go full pan and walk wid it pon your head and you a pay water bill. That nuh make nuh sense. A joke thing! A three days now mi nuh bathe,” he told the Observer.

An elderly woman who gave her name as Zereita was observed doing her laundry amid what residents are now calling a “water crisis”. Others were seen with coal pots engaged in cooking.

She mentioned that she has been seriously impacted by the restriction since the weekend.

“From over the weekend coming down, is just yesterday (Tuesday) at 10:00 [pm] we got back a little. Christmas was still very good, though, and everybody was good, it was just the water problem. Today (yesterday) it has been really low and just coming from the outside pipe,” she said.

The National Water Commission (NWC) on Monday announced that several issues were affecting the entity's operations, triggering major lock-offs across the Corporate Area.

NWC said that water lock-offs would affect Christmas Day activities in some households, even as it carried out repair work on several broken pipelines.

Yesterday, Duhaney Park resident Keisha said it was the “worst Christmas” experienced by her and family members in recent years.

“It's been about three days and no water at all. We need water, man, and worse the new year coming. We can't start it like this. The food was good yesterday (Tuesday) but, my God, the water situation was bad. You mostly get water in the nights and a morning time there is no water. When it touch like seven in the morning, there is no water.

“You have a bottom pipe where other people go and catch water, so that is what we have to be doing now. Is 2018 a guh 2019 and people still affi a carry water. A time that stop now. We affi a wait until hours a night fi bathe. Yuh can't sleep; yuh affi a wait up fi see if water a come fi catch up. So we need water,” she said.

Mark Lettman was seated outside his gate in Duhaney Park when the Observer spoke to him about the current water situation.

“It's about three months now since this problem here a gwaan. Night-time a the only likkle way wi get water inna the pipe and it low, low, low. NWC have serious pipe problems 'cause more time yuh see the pipe dem buss up down the road, so yuh nuh have nuh water because dem affi turn off the water. When dem turn it on back, yuh nah get nuh whole heap a water. Right now mi affi store two drum a water fi mi bathroom. When it (the water) come a night, it go weh back by seven in the morning,” Lettman said.

In Patrick City, Romaine Mitchell said he has been having water issues for approximately three weeks.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) was Christmas and wi nuh get nuh water. 'Round ya suh (at communal pipe) pack up yesterday. A nuff people — more than 100 — a try fi get water. A whole heap a people; all entertainer and entertainer wife line up 'round ya fi catch water a di likkle pipe. Mi feel bad 'bout all a this because a big holiday and no water.

“People fi a stay a dem yard and gwaan easy. Water fi a flow. A holiday and nobody nuh get fi cook because a this water thing. Nuh Christmas wi nuh get, suh everybody a wait pon new year. We a hope and pray seh water come because water a life, enuh. Without water yuh can't do nothing,” he said.

Over in Spanish Town, St Catherine, a woman who identified herself as Boom explained that she is patiently waiting for water to complete laundry she started days ago.

“No water wi nuh get fi Christmas. Wi uncomfortable bad. A inna the night wah day wi wait up and catch water. Sometimes it come inna the night fi a likkle while, then it gone again. You can't really get to do nothing substantial. It's never a sure thing. Mi a wash from when and mi can't rinse yet,” she said.

An Ellerslie Pen man, who asked not to be identified, said that the community has been struggling with water issues for about three months.

“From dem seh dem a change out pipe fi run new pipes pon the bypass a problem. No water now nuh surprise me. The only thing is that this mash up the Christmas big time,” he said.

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