Mocha residents prevent water company from repairing pump
Another attempt to be made today
By Nigel Williams
Stabroek News
November 20, 2002

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Some residents of Mocha yesterday blocked water engineers from carrying out maintenance work on the village pump as tensions between them and the Guyana Water Incorporation (GWI) continued.

Another attempt is to be made by GWI today.

The East Bank Demerara villagers told Stabroek News yesterday that they could not trust GWI as it was rumoured that the water company has plans to remove the pump from the area.

"We heard that they want to tek we pump and give it to another village and as such we will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening," one resident said.

GWI Public Relations officer Audreyanna Thomas however told Stabroek News yesterday that the utility company had no intention of taking away the pump. She said the company was simply fulfilling its mission to "deliver safe, adequate and affordable water for the improvement of public health".

GWI in a release yesterday afternoon said that the Mocha/Arcadia well will be out of operation today as the well pump has developed a mechanical problem and will be extracted for maintenance. As a result residents in the area will be out of water between 10 am and 5 pm. GWI expressed regrets at any inconvenience the maintenance exercise would cause.

Jacqueline Delph, a representative of the Mocha Arcadia, Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) said the NDC was told of GWI's operations on Monday. She said someone from the water company had informed the NDC that engineers were going into the area yesterday to service the pump. Delph pointed out that the NDC took note of the information, but was not prepared to tell residents, fearing that they might have reacted the way they eventually did. She recalled that the NDC was recently at odds with residents when GWI was laying pipelines in the area to connect Mocha to the water treatment plant being set up at Eccles.

"So yesterday residents were not informed because of the last incident. All we were doing is trying to prevent the same thing from happening again and they were not informed that GWI was coming to service the pump today."

She recalled that it was while the engineers were about to service the pump that word of their presence spread around the village and those residents who live near by came out and raised an alarm and there was a confrontation between them and the engineers.

Stabroek News understands that the standoff began at about 10:30 a.m. when residents removed one section of the bridge which leads to the pump station preventing the engineers' crane from driving out of the compound. Villagers also waved sticks and other implements in the faces of the GWI workers causing them to lay down their tools and abandon their work.

Thomas noted that the current water pump in the village does not deliver treated water and it is within the mandate of GWI to ensure that it is properly serviced in order to deliver potable water to residents.

Emerson Bradford, a resident of the village said he was told by a source close to GWI that the company was going to remove the pump very soon. He recalled that around 10 a.m. yesterday the pump was out of operation which was unusual since the routine was that everyday at 11 a.m. the water would go off. He said shortly after he saw a GWI vehicle with a few men travelling towards the pump while at least three others had already commenced work at the station.

On seeing this Bradford said he alerted a few senior citizens of the village and went closer to the station at which time he observed the crane in the pump yard with the engineers trying to lift out the pump from the well.

Brandford said, "myself and some other members of the village asked the engineer what they are doing with the pump and we were told that GWI was going to take away the pump and for about two days they would be without water."

Brandford added that the engineer told him that the NDC was informed a week ago about the issue. Brandford said as residents they felt slighted by GWI and the NDC, adding that as stakeholders they should be consulted. He said they were not opposed to GWI servicing the pump, once it is done on site. He said the lack of consultation by GWI and the NDC was an act of bad faith and does not speak well for the two agencies.

Branford said the village was not getting water from the treatment plant adding that GWI has promised to integrate the pipelines at Eccles into Mocha. Thomas had told this newspaper that Mocha was part of the larger East Bank Water project which encompasses Eccles to Friendship. The project will provide some 63,000 residents with water that has been chlorinated, aerated and filtered. The project also involves the rehabilitation of treatment plants at Eccles, Covent Garden and Grove and the installation of 27 kilometres of pipelines. It is being funded by the government and the World Bank at a cost of $562M.

However, some residents are opposed to this new project, saying that they want their pump to remain in operation and are asking for a Memorandum of Understanding between them and GWI, which they said should have been made out since 1985 when the pump was handed over to the then Guyana Water Authority.

But as far as GWI is concerned whenever the treatment plant begins operation the Mocha pump will be decommissioned. Thomas could not say what GWI will do with it but said that even though the pump was given to residents it was being maintained by GWI, which also paid for its operation.

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