McKenzie warns truckers against selling water paid for by municipal bodies
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie is warning truckers contracted by municipal corporations to distribute water in drought-hit communities to desist from charging residents for the commodity.
“We do not sell water from trucks to communities that are severely affected by the drought. Once the municipal corporation send the trucks out, the water is free,” the minister told residents of Watermount in St Catherine as he commissioned a multimillion-dollar water system in the community on Wednesday.
“The ministry is aware of persons accessing water from hydrants and selling it. We are going to put an end to it. Stop it! This is not a time for persons to exploit the system,” McKenzie added, while urging residents to record the licence number of trucks engaged in this practice and report them directly to him.
McKenzie, who said the current drought is the worst the country has seen in many years, added that the local government ministry would be making a further allocation of $60 million to municipal corporations, along with the $100 million promised by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to members of parliaments for the trucking of water.
McKenzie said that the St Catherine Municipal Corporation has already received $7 million out of the $14 million it requested to truck water into drought-hit communities.
The minister said that the $220-million investment by Rural Water Supply Ltd to put in the Watermount water system was well needed.
“This project is built to last up to 30 years. We don’t just build it to bruk down two years after,” he said.
St Catherine West Central Member of Parliament Dr Christopher Tufton said he had been making representation for the system since he became the political representative for the constituency six years ago. He noted that it will benefit more than 7,000 residents in several communities.
He said that the communities in the area, including Watermount, Old Works, Pedro, Cudjoe Hill, and Back Pastures, will be immediate beneficiaries.
“This is a very ambitious project that involved the installation of some three kilometres of piping, a number of storage tanks and pumps,” Tufton said, noting that there have been times when classes were disrupted at the Watermount Primary School and students sent home because of the water crisis.
Spanish Town Mayor Norman Scott also expressed gratitude for the system, for which he said that the St Catherine Municipal Corporation had laid the groundwork.
He urged residents to pay their water bills on time to ensure the smooth functioning of the system.
The facility will be managed by the St Catherine Municipal Corporation, which will see it footing a fixed monthly operating cost to keep the system functioning.