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Charles Jr: Pump & Tank project serving its purpose

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 17, 2019

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The Government's Pump and Tank project, which focuses on distributing tanks, rehabilitating catchment tanks and ensuring that there is enough capacity for communities, has been serving its intended purpose, Minister with responsibility for water, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, has said.

Charles, who last March was appointed Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, and who also has infrastructure, and housing as part of his Cabinet responsibilities, was responding to questions from the Jamaica Observer during a recent interview.

Long periods of drought this year had resulted in shortage of water to some communities. Damage to pipelines caused by road rehabilitation had disrupted the flow of the precious liquid in others.

“So far, the Tank & Pump programme has been effective since I have been here,” Charles said. “I have instructed that schools be targeted and so schools were targeted and black tanks were given out to several.

“I went myself into the Opposition Leader's (Dr Peter Phillips) constituency at the Christian Academy for the Deaf and we did a full audit of their school. We identified that their 3,000-gallon tank needed repair, we committed to help them repair that, we left there giving them additional storage … two more black tanks were given to them. But they have a problem there that even if you give them tanks they need water, because they were impacted heavily by the Ferry Pipeline and the Constant Spring system, so we are also assisting with trucking,” Charles said in giving one example of the project that sees organisations, institutions and individuals most affected by water shortage benefiting from new tanks, renovated tanks, and the device to pump the water where gravity fails.

“The initiative starts with schools. My vision is that every school, every business agency, every government agency has one of these systems because this will become your secondary system for being able to harvest and distribute water within your institution.

“Years ago, you could rely more on the rainfall pattern. There were variations, but not the kind of variations that we are seeing now. You knew that October there would be rain, December to April you gonna have some dry period; May again, heavy rain to take you through the summer.

“In the short term for the rural areas we are increasing the number of rainwater harvesting systems across the schools and communitiues. We are rehabilitating several catchment tanks, about 23 before the end of this year and we are rehabilitating several minor water systems across the country with the municipal corporations. Those in the short terms will see us at a completely different standard in terms of water delivery,” Charles said.

Charles Jr is also fully focused on completing pipe re-laying of the Ferry project, which has been making life hellish for thousands in the Corporate Area served by the Ferry water system.

He told the Sunday Observer that in recent days he had visited the site, once in pouring rain, to see for himself how the work had been progressing.

“I called in the NWA, NWC, contractor, consultant, everybody and said listen, what is the problem? Why is this moving from one month to the next and every month the only thing you can expect is to hear another delay? And I have not been assured of a firm date, but I have been assured that everybody will press to meet the year-end deadline, in terms of putting in the major infrastructures required for the laying of the pipelines, and I expect that the work should be completed then by either the end of the year, or a little running into early next year.

“The challenges that we found really exist in management, communication, and technical difficulties arising from those challenges in management and communication, like situations where one person is opposed to a design and saying they don't have the resources, back and forth. There are technical issues, but not ones that cannot be addressed,” Charles said of the status of the project.


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