The newly-appointed executive director of cash-strapped Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) Dr Lennox Sealy has committed to putting five per cent of his salary into a fund to assist customers. Sealy revealed this during an interview on TTT’s Now Morning Show Monday.
This comes just a week after the government replaced the former acting CEO Allan Poon-King with Sealy, following the
Cabinet sub-committee’s report on the operations of WASA.
“I am going to give five per cent of my salary into a fund and I am going to ask our technical officers who are out there to identify people who need a tank or some kind of access to water.”
Sealy said he will also ask employees to make a monthly contribution towards the fund.
“And I am going to ask every employee who comes to work tomorrow if they can contribute $10 a month to that fund.”
He would be assisting people who are “at the end of the pipeline” and have issues receiving water.”
He added, “I am going to ask my technical officers to help them get water. So I want to put my mouth and money in the same place.” Sealy said they would also be looking at implementing a metering system. While that has been in discussion for some time, Sealy said he was not aware of why it has not been implemented.
“But certainly metering is on the cards, a certain percentage of industrial customers are already metered, new developments are metered but here’s the challenge..yesterday evening around 5 o’clock I was standing at the corner of Henry and Duke Streets with one of my engineers, I am looking down into a hole, there is a leak and TSTT passes and T&TEC passes and we are trying to figure out how to get in there without… I am making a link here as to what we have to do to make sure there is accurate distribution and the infrastructure.”
Sealy has suggested to Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales a permanent utility commission be established and a map of the underground infrastructure is undertaken to help with their distribution system.
Sealy said he launched WASA 2024 yesterday and has set up a committee to receive the 66 pages of recommendations and suggestions he solicited from employees.
“When you have employees starting to feel confident that someone is in place who is listening to them and implementing, it is the thing that ignites the process. So that has started today. I am launching WASA 2024.”
Noting that his contract is for three years, he said he would not be around when the transformation is completed.
“There’s a train that is on the track and I am neither a magician nor a fool. I am simply going to put the train back on the track and I am going to hand it over to someone else.”
Admitting that transforming WASA is no easy task, he said producing water alone is a big challenge.
“I spent a half-day at Desal and in the laboratory, I learned of the deterioration in the water quality in the Gulf of Paria. So we are managing a product that is deteriorating, one it is disappearing from the rivers, two it is high risk that means many people can access it without us knowing and therefore it makes collection, harvesting, distribution, more challenging than other public facilities.”
Asked about funding to get the work done, he said Gonzales has been talking to international financial institutions and on Wednesday he (Sealy) will be meeting with a representative from the Inter-American Development Bank to discuss the water treatment plants. “Obviously if we don’t have the money we are going to have to do it through loans, not rocket science, and that you are going to see over the next year a number of projects of that nature. Every plant I have visited so far are in need of some sort of refurbishment or upgrade so there are a lot of no-brainers that I am faced with. I don’t have to work rocket science. There are a number of things I need to do as a transformation manager so we have to borrow, a simple answer to your question.”
Addressing concerns from “armchair experts” about the governance arrangements at WASA,” he said he reports to the Minister, the Minister reports to the cabinet and the board reports to him (Sealy). “The Minister can fire me at any time,” he added. He is not concerned about any opposition he might face from the union.
“As far as I am concerned people are workers first paid by an organisation before they are union members so I am going to keep working with the people with the workers, especially those people who want to see WASA really work well and there is a lot of them.”