Water manager addresses ‘sabotage’ claims at APUA

Water Business Unit Manager Ian Lewis (Photo courtesy apua.com)
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By Kadeem Joseph

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After weeks of speculation, a top APUA official has said there is no evidence of “sabotage” in the country’s water supply.

Water Business Unit Manager Ian Lewis sought to clarify the issue whilst speaking on Observer AM on Thursday.

He explained that he believes the complaint may have emanated from people observing employees operating valves and later complaining that they did not receive water at their prescribed time.

Lewis said that there are presently two technicians that operate 52 valves on a nightly basis, “so you can image individuals having to go around and operate these valves each night”. 

“You have two individuals operating 52 valves every night, and it’s a possibility that in their normal operation you may have failure of these valves and that may lend someone to believe that maybe there is that activity [sabotage], but we have not found such,” he said.

He continued that the employees within the unit are “committed to the cause” and are aware of the current water situation in the country. He added that they too are subject to the same water availability that prevails across the nation. 

The water manager further explained that issues may also arise during regular maintenance exercises due to valve failures.

“Sometimes you close a valve, you may think you’re opening the valve, but because the gate has dropped in the valve you are exercising the operation of opening but the valve actually is not opening,” he explained further.

Lewis said that if there are complaints after two cycles, the valve would have to be dug up and changed.

“We have no way of knowing on the surface whether a gate has fallen or not until customers complain and say that they have not received water,” he said. “…So, that is why some people may think that that [sabotage] situation is the case.”

Back in April, Prime Minister Gaston Browne levelled some of the blame for the country’s water supply issues on APUA due to a lack of filtration membranes and poor management of the water distribution system, adding that although there was no evidence at the time, he had received word that there may be “opposition elements within APUA who may be sabotaging the delivery of water” by switching valves off.

Browne stated further that he had called the general manager of APUA asking him to “micromanage” water distribution.

Since the PM made the claim, the leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell has called on him to apologise to the workers for blaming them for what he characterised as a failure on the government’s part.

Lewis confirmed that the Cabinet requested the location of the valves as well, which have since been presented.

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