Eleuthera water a ‘serious problem’

Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Public Utilities.

Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Public Utilities.


Tribune Staff Reporter


WORKS and Utilities Minister Alfred Sears said the water system in Eleuthera is a “serious problem” that the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) is addressing.

He said he is advised that the corporation has called an “extraordinary general meeting” of its board to address this concern.

Central Eleuthera residents had been hit with water supply disruptions a number of times this year. In June, WSC announced it will execute a $2.7m contract for two one million gallon tanks and an additional $525,000 for related support work in view of water supply interruptions in the area.

Before yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Mr Sears explained what WSC is doing to remediate the water issue.

“The water system in Eleuthera is a serious problem that the Water and Sewerage Corporation is addressing. The operator of the desalination plant, Aquadesign, there are certain challenges that they have had. And to mitigate against the frequency of these disruptions the government has commissioned a manufacturer in the United States to produce two storage tanks which have been designed with a certain level of resilience in terms of glass lining and so on and the timeframe for that is six months,” he said.

“Those orders and I know the first payment would have been made about two months ago, and in the interim temporary storage facilities, each one million imperial gallons being installed to basically provide a temporary solution pending the installation of the tanks which are being manufactured. I’m advised that the Water and Sewerage Corporation has called an extraordinary general meeting of its board to address this concern and it’s been a concern for some time, and I expect that the board will address and I know their ongoing discussions with the operator of the arrow plant Aqua design and I will keep you briefed or they will keep you briefed as we progress in this matter.”

Pressed on the cost, he said: “The tanks, about three point something million dollars and that was approved by the cabinet roughly approximately three months ago.”

He also spoke about the progress for a new Parliament building.

Foreign Affairs and Public Service Minister Fred Mitchell said last November the government wants to construct a new Parliament building reflective of modern-day Bahamian culture that he hopes will be completed in the next three years.

Mr Sears explained the plans when answering a question about increasing accessibility for people with disabilities.

“And the most dramatic example is that if you are in a wheelchair, you cannot enter our Parliament unless you are lifted up. So, the government has assembled a team of architects, engineers, and they are currently looking at different jurisdictions at the Parliament of these various jurisdictions, and will be coming forward with a design for a new Parliament building. This is a high priority for the government and we have to symbolise and reflect and really comply with the law.

“Sidewalks which are being built, being built with the ramps, so that there can be accessibility and ease in terms of the roadway. And we are also looking at some new methods, discussing it within the ministry, because when I went to Japan about two weeks ago. In the airport, you have on the ground a Braille-like structure, which can help persons with their cane or whatever to navigate.

“So I think that we have a fantastic opportunity to leapfrog rather than just doing a little bit here and a little bit there as we build these new infrastructures and as we carry out major rehabilitation of public infrastructure to put some of the latest technology and systems in place because as a matter of our democracy, constitution, legislation, we have to ensure diversity. And for those persons who are disabled, they have the same right as all of us here to access the public goods of The Bahamas.”

Asked if the new Parliament will be in the same site, he replied: “I don’t know. A number of sites are being considered. But the site has to be determined and the recommendations put forward, but a number of sites because it should be at the heart of the city, downtown and various sites are being considered.”

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