Pushing water uphill

We are going to be up-front and state for the record that we do not understand how the situation regarding the restroom facilities at Horsford Hill has gotten so out of control. We also need to add that we do not understand how there has been a lack of running water and restroom facilities at the vendors’ location for more than 20 years … as in over two decades!

Anything that remains in a deficient state for over 20 years is beyond politics. Plus, we are talking about basic needs here – water and toilets. We are not talking about illuminating the place at night or anything so elaborate.

Tourism is our number one industry. We basically have all our eggs in that one basket, yet tourists who visit the Horsford Hill vendors cannot even relieve themselves after the long trip from St John’s. We invite you to sit back and ponder the madness of that situation for a while. And while you are trying to wrap your minds around the plight of the tourists, please consider the predicament that the unfortunate vendors must face when they need to use a toilet; descriptions of which are too graphic for a family paper like ours.

What makes all of this so vexing is that the issue is not new. It has been in and out of the news for many, many years. In 2010, the then chairman of the National Parks Authority (NPA), Claude Anthony, boasted of the statutory corporation’s plans to construct new bathroom facilities throughout the park, with specific mention of Horsford Hill. In fact, the chairman stated that plans were well under way for the erection of a bathroom facility at Horsford Hill.

So, how do we go from plans being well under way in 2010 to where we are today? According to the current NPA Commissioner, Anne-Marie Martin, “The NPA is committed, as a matter of priority, to the construction of bathroom facilities for use, not only for vendors, but visitors alike.” She says that the vendors have been kept abreast of the construction plans and the reasons that the project has not started.

According to her, the proposed project is “well beyond the design stage and engineering plans have been completed”. That sounds remarkedly similar to Anthony’s statement when he said plans were well under way for the erection of a bathroom facility at Horsford Hill; except the two statements are almost seven years apart.  And although the NPA commissioner has expressed her surprise at the stance taken by the vendors and stated that she is not aware of any “vexing issues”, we certainly can understand the vendors’ frustration having to wait through numerous promises for over 20 years.

Ms Martin is not one to mince words and she has a reputation for being a dedicated and effective administrator, so we must admit that we were taken aback when all of this blew up; to the point where the vendors have shunned a meeting with the commissioner and reached out to the prime minister for assistance. Maybe they are hoping that the previous tension between the commissioner and the administration, regarding her transfer to the St John’s Development Corporation, would be to their benefit. Maybe it will, but we would advise them not to put too much faith in that strategy because that now takes them into the world of politics and the only ones that win that game are politicians.

Having said all of that, we have a temporary solution that we would like to offer … porta potties. This is not an original idea but a sensible one. Why not simply get a few portable toilets and a tank for water? They could be quickly deployed while the multi-year plan continues on its path towards reality. We doubt that it would take much engineering (if any) and it could be deployed in a short period of time. And once the permanent facilities are finished, the porta potties could be sold, re-deployed or taken into inventory to be utilised during government or NPA sponsored functions.

Even if the toilets were ordered today, they could be here in under two weeks and deployed in a matter of one or two days. There really seems to be little downside to this plan. They are relatively cheap, easily available and quickly deployed. Win! Win! Win!

Of course, the downside is that they are not the most attractive things but they are a darn sight better than a disgruntled tourist that has had their day ruined because they have soiled themselves because of no washroom facilities.

Based on the time that a solution has been on the table, you would think that this is akin to pushing water uphill or carrying water in a basket, but it is not. This is an easy solution to a nagging problem that has been going on for over 20 years.

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