Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern, Tova Hamilton, is lamenting the lack of potable in her constituency for up to 60 years in some communities, while blasting the previous representatives whom she has noted, were all men.
Hamilton outlined the difficulties her constituents have faced for decades with an inadequate water supply, or, in some communities, no running water, and the steps she has taken over the past two years to rectify the problem. She also noted that residents of Northern Trelawny were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars more than those elsewhere who have access to running water.
She was speaking recently during her contribution to the 2022/23 State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives.
“When residents of communities such as Samuel Prospect, Bounty Hall, Sherwood, Bunkers Hill and Calabar complained over the years, they complained bitterly. Not having access to potable water means not being able to take a proper shower, or cook, do laundry, the dishes, or even water your garden,” said Hamiltion.
“And my rather considerate predecessors allowed this issue to continue unabated for decades,” she added sarcastically.
“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry,” the first term Member of Parliament said, while outlining the exhorbitant costs faced by her constituents in their quest to source the precious commodity.
She said: “If we should calculate the cost incurred by one low income household to truck water over the last 10 years at a rate of $8,000 per 650 gallon tank, which requires refilling at least twice per month, that figure would amount to $1.92 million. Comparatively, a flat rate of $5,000 per month paid to the NWC (National Water Commission) for piped water over the same 10-year period could have saved that same household $1.32 million. This is unacceptable by any standard”.
Hamilton also outlined the steps she has taken to improve the water situation since she was elected MP in September 2020.
These include the commissioning of an 8.1 kilometre pipeline in June from Baron Hill to Samuel Prospect at a cost of $275 million. This represents phase one of the larger Dornoch and Greater Dornoch Water Supply Rehabilitation and Upgrading Project. The pipeline benefits roughly 11,500 residents from communities such as Brampton, Calabar, Hatfield, Samuel Prospect, Middlemost, and Vale Royal.
Phase two of the project, which is slated to begin in the current financial year, will see the replacement of the 2.4 kilometre transmission line from Dornoch to Baron Hill with an initial estimated cost of $70 million to procure the pipes.
“This transmission line, which may be inching closer to 100 years old, is located in hilly terrain and subject to frequent leaks,” Hamilton noted. She said the completion of phase one of the Wakefield to Bunkers Hill Pipeline Replacement Project last year saw a 4 kilometre pipeline being laid on both sides of the road from Wakefield Square to Daney Cross Roads in Friendship at a cost of $69 million. Phase two will see the installation of a 2.5 kilometre pipeline to connect a section of Unity in the vicinity of the primary school back to Daney Cross Roads at an initial estimated cost of $20 million to procure the pipes. Work is expected to commence in the next financial year.
Hamilton also told the House that residents of King Street, Bunkers Hill were all smiles when she visited the community recently, because the commitment she made while campaigning four years ago to supply water was fulfilled. “I observed that even the nature of our conversation has changed. Back then, the discussions centred around pipes, tanks and trucking; now it’s all about water bills,” she said. She also said the rehabilitation of existing wells is currently being explored as a viable option for some communities.
And, Hamilton shared that the pump station at the Bellefield Well has been rehabilitated and the electrical panel installed and awaiting the approval of the Jamaica Public Service Company. “When approved, the communities of Hampden, New Cargen and Bounty Hall will benefit from this facility. In the next financial year, procurement will be undertaken to purchase electromechanical equipment to improve the generation and distribution system of the Queen of Spain number 2 Well,” she said while adding that the communities of Bounty Hall, Wakefield, Friendship, Bunkers Hill, Dromilly and Deeside will also benefit from this improvement.