By Kadeem Joseph
As opposition parties and residents continue to chastise the government for sustained water supply issues, the minister with responsibility for public utilities has announced that another reverse osmosis plant will be contributing to production levels by tomorrow.
Sir Robin Yearwood used his presentation during the 2022 budget debate to tackle the issue of water supply which has been a hot button political matter for several years, with the ruling administration promising to remedy the issue ahead of the 2014 polls.
Speaking on Tuesday evening, the member of parliament declared, “We are putting a plant down at Ffryes as we speak… it’s going on the line Thursday.”
He added that the plant will produce 350,000 imperial gallons of water which will be routed to Gray Hill since “the south has water right now, they get water every day….”
In February 2020, APUA’s Water Business Unit manager, Ian Lewis, told a press conference that, within the 2020 budget, the body was scheduled to install a new plant at Fort James, which would produce about 500,000 gallons per day, and a plant at Ffryes Beach would also come on stream with funding from the Japanese government.
Back then, Lewis said the Ffryes Beach plant was a “gift” from Japan – through the Japan International Cooperation System – to the Ministry of Agriculture. However, APUA would be managing the operations of the plant on behalf of the ministry, as they had the necessary expertise.
However, logistical issues brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, including delayed support from a Japanese technician, caused interruptions in getting the plant operationalised in time.
Sir Robin has also indicated that the plant earmarked for Fort James “will be arriving in the next two to three weeks” and is expected to produce “half a million gallons per day”.
He added, “That will serve Fort James coming up, give water to the cruise ships so they don’t have to use the present water we are using, and goes right across to go over to the Sandals area with all them people there.”
The member of parliament said another reverse osmosis plant planned for Bethesda is expected to arrive in Antigua between late August and September.
“We have everything in place for that one. That will service Freetown, Mill Reef, Bethesda, going up to Long Bay…,” he added.
Sir Robin asked for residents to be patient while the ministry aims to remedy water supply, committing the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party administration to this major promise for 2022.
“We want to tell the people of Antigua and Barbuda it’s this drought, we haven’t had any surface water, the underground water we are only getting from Bendals, we are doing our best to let everyone share… and before this year ends, we should have enough water to have it 24 hours a day unless there is some big thing…,” Sir Robin promised.