Residents drink boiled river water amid shortage in Tableland

The water crisis in Tableland is so terrible that Francisca Mendoza says she has had no other choice but to haul water from a river and push it uphill using a box cart so she can bathe her kids.

She was one of several people who came out to protest for water at Glod Road, Tableland on Tuesday. Mendoza said for the past two months she has not received a single drop of water in her taps.

The region which includes parts of the constituencies of Moruga/ Tableland, Princes Town, Mayaro/ Rio Claro and San Fernando East has been without water for more than two months.

Unlike other residents in other areas, Mendoza said all they needed was water once a month for them to be happy.

If the drought makes this impossible, Mendoza said all they needed was a barrel of water twice weekly in every home at Glods Road, Mantakool, Worrel Road, and Naparima Mayaro Road.

 Some of the residents had as many as 16 tanks.

Mendoza said she was tired of waiting for regular water in the taps.

"I am tired of pushing box cart from the 17 mile Mark at my age to get water to bathe the children. It is not fair because all my water bills are up to date, " she said.

Motilal Samaroo said he has never had water troubles in over 20 years but this year things got so bad that all of his 16 tanks were now empty.

"The reason I have so many tanks is that I want to avoid this kind of trouble. My daughter in law is pregnant and can make a baby any time but we do not have a drop of water. If we get water once per month we will be satisfied. Is this too much to ask?" Samaroo asked.

Indira Ramnath of William Smith Road said she has been buying water to operate her ice business. 

"I cannot even turn a profit. I have to buy water to make ice. You think this is fair, " she asked.

MP for Mayaro/ Rio Claro Rushton Paray who joined the residents in their protests said he was appalled that constituents were taking water from the Ortoire River and boiling it to make tea for their children. Pray said a health hazard was looming.

" You will see the effect of this in the coming weeks when our hospitals and health centres are affected by increased numbers of people seeking medical care, " Paray said. He chastised Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for being silent on the water crisis.

MP for Princes Town Barry Padarath said the UNC will move a motion of urgent public importance in Parliament today to discuss the water crisis. He said if the matter is not given importance in Parliament, they will take it to the streets.

Told of Police Commissioner Gary Griffith's warning that illegal protests will not be tolerated, Padarath said everything will be done within the confines of the law. He said a request for permission will be sought before the protests take place.

Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte in an interview said water reservoirs were extremely low.

However, he said it was unacceptable if people had no water for more than a week. Le Hunte said anyone needing truck-borne water can make a request at WASA.

- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Kristian De Silva.