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Archive for February, 2010

Caribbean Fights Water Shortage

Posted by admin On February - 23 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Dry Spell Panic

A lingering El Nino is causing millions in agricultural losses in Caribbean countries hit hard by a prolonged dry spell.

Many of the islands are now rationing water in the face of the drought that is not expected to let up for at least six to eight weeks. Hopefully, rain will fall by then.

In Trinidad and Jamaica water is being rationed daily. A limited amount is permitted through pipe lines and only for a few hours as authorities tighten their grips on the remaining water supply. So far, Trinidad’s water authority has repaired some 2,000 broken and leaking pipelines. A task that would have taken years or not at all under normal circumstances.

Like the other countries in the region, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda are also struggling with water shortages as a result of the long dry spell.

Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud said the resultant losses could be around $3 billion Guyanese dollars  (US$14.7 million).  Water is being provided where it is needed. The country’s rice lands are drying up under the drought, especially in the hinterland.

“Across the country we have mobilised resources in all the regions and with local officials to try and work very closely with farmers to develop the type of system that we need so that we can respond, address, provide the type of assistance in all the areas,” he said.

Since the drought started the government has spent more than Guy$250 million (US$1.2m) in infrastructure works to help farmers. Some Guy$49 million (US$240,549) was located to hinterland locations. The ministry pays up to Guy$3.2 million (US$15,709) a day to operate pumps and conduct other works.

The National Office of Disaster Services said that on average Antigua and Barbuda go through a period of low rainfall every three to four years. In the last 134 years since 1874, they have experienced 36 occurrences of drought.

In light of the situation Jamaica authorities are considering a proposal by an American company to provide desalinated water from the sea to meet the water shortage. The treated water would be hooked up to an island-wide system and sold cheap. Up to five million gallons could be pumped daily.

And so continues the water woes across the Caribbean. From Trinidad and Tobago in the south to Jamaica in the north, authorities have banned watering lawns,  washing vehicles, use of sprinklers and fountains and bathing at stand pipes to control the flow of pipe borne water.

People are urged to conserve water and not waste it.

Running Out of Water in Trinidad

Posted by admin On February - 21 - 2010 18 COMMENTS

Pipe Water for Sale. Anyone?

by Susan Gosine

It has taken a dry spell to spook the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) in Trinidad into repairing broken pipelines, some of which spilled millions of gallons of water into the ground for years in spite of complaints from residents.

Water is precious to all life (photo: worldproutassembly.org).

It is a rare sight not to see a broken pipeline along the roadway with running water digging trenches and potholes in the ground. WASA is plugging up those leaks. How did they suddenly come by the manpower to repair all those broken pipelines when for years they’ve complained about the lack of same?  Perhaps one good thing has, indeed, come out of the dry spell after all. Will it become a thing of the past after the drought? We’ll soon find out.

On the other hand the two things running out fast following announcement of a prolonged drought caused by the absence of the year end rainfall are: water and water tanks. Just the mention of a water shortage and people hastened to the hardware stores to buy water tanks. To counteract the panic buying unscrupulous dealers jacked up the prices by several hundreds ($300 to $700 in some instances) and smiled smugly as their supplies ran out.

On a more sobering note people have been caught selling pipe borne and truck borne water. Instead of working with WASA to ensure that water is conserved and everyone gets an equal supply so there will be sufficient to sustain the population throughout the dry spell, they are exploiting it. And the buyers are also guilty of indulging them.  They should all be held accountable, unless, there’s a way to drink money if water runs out.

WASA’s truck borne water is free, has always been. Trucks bear its logo and workers carry identification cards.  Demand to see them and report those who don’t have any. The Deputy Commissioner of Police Gilbert Reyes has joined with WASA to crackdown on the illegal selling of water.

Filling water at a public pipe tap.

“If, according to WASA, we have a water shortage problem in the country, people should not break the law. Anything about law enforcement in the country, the Police Service is willing and able to assist,” he said.

While the water level is sinking fast in the reservoir and the dams WASA has appointed 130 water police. Their duties: to keep watch on communities to ensure citizens are not wasting water.  So far they have arrested several homeowners who were caught selling their pipe borne water supply. And they have been charged with a hefty fine of $75. No wonder they are brazenly selling water. Such a low fine for breaking the law in a time of conservation, surely, it has little impact. An increase, maybe will bear more results.

Only 130 water police to monitor the country’s water use, now, that’s a straight case for manpower shortage. And they have to be on the job every day stretching themselves from one end of the country to the other and to accompany WASA workers to illegal water selling hot spots. The water police have the authority to enter premises and inspect plumbing. But they have been met with locked gates and ferocious dogs.

It seems as if people do not yet understand the severity of the water shortage hitting the country. They are still stuck behind in time, grappling for money from anything worth selling, and in this crisis time, water.

There is a drought on people, 52,000 in Trinidad’s agricultural belt are at risk, plants and animals are dying from thirst and dehydration, the ground is cracking open, water wells and ponds are drying up.  People are being arrested for wasting water and using sprinklers. Rain is not expected for another six weeks. The water level to supply the country is frighteningly low. All signs of a water crisis. What more evidence is required?


Beyonce in Trinidad

Posted by admin On February - 18 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Beyonce I am Concert Ends in Trinidad

Mega star Beyonce Knowles is in Trinidad. She arrived by private jet yesterday but failed to greet fans who had gathered at the Piarco International Airport for hours awaiting her arrival.

From her private jet which landed at 1 p.m. she was whisked off to a yacht, Velista, anchored off the Hyatt Regency hotel on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, where will be staying.

Beyonce Knowles (Sony photo)

Knowles is scheduled to perform at the Beyonce I Am… concert today (February 18) at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Beyonce was accompanied by her 80-plus team members. After being processed by Immigration at the Southern Terminal, she was escorted into a Range Rover. That vehicle, along with two other Range Rovers and a panel van, was escorted by police to the Hyatt. They were followed by two PTSC buses, carrying Beyonce’s team.

Megastar Beyonce onstage.

Graeme Suite, manager of media relations at Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), confirmed Beyonce and her team’s arrival.

The gates will be opened at 4 p.m. to a pan welcome by 2010 Panorama champs PCS Silver Stars and DJ music. At 5.40 p.m., Silver Stars will play the National Anthem. Soca star Machel Montano will open the show at 6 p.m. and perform for one hour.

Beyonce will then take the stage for 90 minutes-from 8 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.

’The excitement of the concert is eminent,’ Suite said.

’People are still going to bmobile outlets and the temporary caravan which was set up at the venue to purchase tickets. I suspect the interest will continue throughout the day.”

He said all ticket outlets and the caravan will be open for sales all day.

To mark the last of the South American leg of the tour, Beyonce will be donating 300 tickets to lucky fans in Trinidad and Tobago.

According to a release from TSTT, the recipients will be chosen by The United Way of Trinidad and Tobago and the tickets will be distributed this morning.

The show, which is the last leg in the singer’s extended world tour to South America, will be her last live performance for 2010.

The two-week run took the entertainer from Brazil to Argentina, Chile and Peru. She played to her biggest live concert audience ever in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where a crowd of 60,000 fans gathered.

Earlier this month, Beyonce took home six Grammy Awards, including the Song of the Year award for ’Single Ladies’. She made history on Grammy night, becoming the female artiste with the most wins in one Grammy year.