Many residents from the old Long Barracks off Lovely Lane, also known as the “Pink Jungle” have been expressing indignation over the decision of Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL) to cut off their free water supply by closing down the solitary standpipe which serves the block.
Residents of the area took to the air waves via the morning talk shows vigorously condemning the action, causing Belize Water Services Limited to send out a press release, dated September 5.
The release explains that the standpipe was temporarily disconnected based upon instructions from the Ministry of Finance, because it has been generating bills of around $3,000 a month due to abuse and excessive leakage.
The BWSL release explained that the standpipe would be repaired and the service restored in the next day or two. It also urged residents to take care of it and to avoid wasting the water.
When The Reporter visited the area, several residents spoke out against the BWSL decision to cut off the water and not provide them with an explanation.
According to one resident, who did not want her name to be used, “the Long Barracks is home to about twenty-nine families, with each family averaging about ten persons per household. ”
Of that number only a five or six families have running water connected to their homes, this resident said.
So what happened when BWSL cut off the water supply just days before the opening of the new school year?
The families who have running water connected to their homes came up with the idea of charging fifty cents a bucket for their water.
Bernadette Bennett, a single mother of five, commented that “sometimes we don’t even have money to buy bread, much less to pay our neighbors for water”.
Bennett said that everyone uses the water from the standpipe. She added that the pipe was broken and BWSL simply came in and cut off the water supply.
“They cut out the pipe, because it was leaking, but they never tried to fix the leak that has been leaking for a long time,” Bennett said..
Another resident who did not want to use her name said the men from BWSL came and cut off the water supply on Friday, two days before school was about to start.
“When we asked them when they will put back the water, they told us ‘Monday’. But Monday gone and today is Wednesday and the water is not back.”
“I am a single mother and I cannot afford to put water in my house. This is really affecting me.”
Celia Nicholas, another resident who has no running water, said that she understands that they have to pay the neighbours for their water, because the neighbours have to pay their water bill.
Asked what she would like to say to BWSL, Kendra Felix said that BWSL needs to build the pipe into a wall, so that it cannot be easily tampered with.
Late on Wednesday morning BWSL dispatched some equipment and workers to the area to fix the Pickstock water problem.
Although none of the BWSL workers would speak to The Reporter, it was learned that the replacement public pipe will be re-enforced to make it tamper-proof.