COVID-19 brings water to residents of Friendship division

Western News

COVID-19 brings water to residents of Friendship division

Observer West writer

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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FRIENDSHIP, Westmoreland -In light of the increased cases of the global pandemic COVID-19, water is now being trucked to residents in several communities in the Friendship Division of Westmoreland who have been without piped water since last August.

According to People's National Party (PNP's) caretaker for the division Tyrone Guthrie, over the past two weeks more than six truckloads of water have been supplied to the affected communities, which include Bath Mountain, Red Hills, Prospect and Blauwearie.

Guthrie added that several more truckloads of the commodity will be delivered in coming days under the initiative which is being undertaken by Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Western Dr Wykeham McNeill.

The residents had expressed fear that without water, the communities would find it difficult to fend off the coronavirus should it breach their borders.

“There is no piped water in the communities,” Guthrie told the Jamaica Observer West. “There is a solar water pump that is placed over the spring head in one of the communities that pumps water to the community tank. Residents from all four communities used to get water from this tank but if there is cloud cover for a few days the pump cease to work and so no water will be pumped to the tank. Therefore, no water for residents,” he explained.

Nathalie Webster, a resident of Blauwearie told the Observer West that there is a second water supply which is a rain catchment tank that supplies the communities “however that tank has a leak, and so it will need to be repaired before it can be used to supply the communities again.”

“I have been appealing to Councillor [Kevin Murray, the Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the area], to get it repaired, but nothing as yet. The tank started leaking from around September of last year,” said Webster.

Calls to councillor Kevin Murray's cellphone went unanswered.

Webster noted that since the absence of water from the tank, residents either pool funds together and buy a truckload of water or fetch water from a river, which she described as very tedious.

“You have to walk down a steep hill to reach the river, so we really appreciate the water sent by the MP [Mc Neill]. But we want the tanks fixed,” she argued.

Guthrie further stated that discussions are underway to find a permanent solution to the lack of a reliable supply of the commodity to the affected communities.

Meanwhile, Guthrie said he is also making arrangements to have non-perishable items delivered to the shut-ins in the division who are more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus.

He added that while he is aware that many residents who work in the tourism industry have lost their jobs due to the lockdown of the industry, he has not yet done his assessment to see how severe the impact has been.

“Right now they all just got paid so we are not going to see the negative impact immediately. But, I plan to do my own investigation starting this coming week, so we will see what needs to be done,” he told the Observer West.

He also pointed out that there have been visible changes in the communities as it relates to the precautionary measures implemented by the government to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

“Taxis have scaled down the amount of persons they carry as ordered by the Prime Minister, and residents do not want to travel in any taxis once they see that it already has three persons onboard,” he said, citing examples.

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