Thursday 20 September, 2018

A view from the outside: NWC should be for ‘National Wrecking Company’

                                                                  With Karyl Walker

How come?

On a recent visit to Jamaica to pay my final respects to a loved one, I was once again reminded of the uncaring and callous manner in which I think a certain state agency operates.

The entity to which I refer is the National Water Commission (NWC), or maybe that should be the ‘National Wrecking Company’.

I was staying at my childhood home in Whitehall Gardens, and while reconnecting with family and friends, I noticed heavy equipment emblazoned with the NWC logo carrying out pipe-laying works. The crew worked for the better part of a day, and to my surprise and disgust, when they finished working, the men left a one-foot-deep trench uncovered.

The deep gash covered the entire length of the roadway, and turned out to be a nightmare for motorists. I believe every single vehicle that traversed that stretch of roadway suffered some damage.

One female motorist, caught by surprise, let out an agonising wail as her sports utility vehicle (SUV) banged into the trench.

While it is understandable that pipe-laying works are essential for the life-giving fluid to be supplied adequately, it is unacceptable for the NWC to dig up the island’s already deplorable roadways and leave the trenches unrepaired for long periods, which is by no means a new scenario, and has been going on for too many years.

The NWC has long moaned that collection for the supply of water seems to be low on the priority list of its customers, and has also bemoaned the high level of water theft.

While I will never advocate for the theft of the precious commodity, or for the non-payment of bills, the question must be asked.

If motorists are forced to effect regular repairs to their vehicles due to shoddy and incomplete work carried out by the NWC, it must mean that the motorists’ already generally meagre incomes will suffered dents, and maybe they will have difficulties meeting their water bill requirements. Water bill payments will likely suffer, right?

To make matters worse, two days after the raw trench was left open, workmen from the NWC came back to the location and filled the trench with dirt. The filling was steamrolled, and for a day or two, driving along the roadway was a bit less treacherous. But lo and behold, the rains came and washed the temporary fix away, leaving motorists to negotiate the carnage left by the utility company.

It is a fact that road repairs are the domain of the National Works Agency (NWA), but it stands to reason that if the NWC digs up a particular patch of road to do necessary pipe-laying or repairs, then the least they could do is repair the damage they caused.

Both entities are owned by the people, and as such, should have the interest of their owners at heart.

While in Jamaica, I had the privilege of watching an ‘All Angles’ television feature – produced by journalist extraordinaire, Dionne Jackson-Miller, and her team on Television Jamaica (TVJ) – entitled ‘Pothole Paradise’.

The feature travelled the length and breadth of the island and shone the spotlight on some of the worst roads. But a significant point was made by some of the persons interviewed. As soon as the roads were ‘patched’ by the NWA, along came the ‘National Wrecking Company’ with its band of merry men to wreak destruction and cause hell for motorists.

Is it that both agencies do not work in tandem, or as my grandmother would say, the left hand don’t know what the right hand is doing?

Come on NWC, Jamaicans deserve better than this.

With that in mind, how come they are getting such a raw deal?

How come?

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