I had to tell my friend Ia Sirju she was joking about overhaul of the WASA leaders and stopping the bribery and corruption would bring about proper water supply in Trinidad.
You see, the creation of WASA in 1965 was not about purifying and distributing water to homes and businesses and farms. It was about creating well paid permanent jobs for PNM supporters, mostly black people.
The formula that the good old dummy Eric Williams handed out was simple: I give you wuk, you vote for me election time, you doh really have to work hard for your pay, in fact you doh have to work at all, you just have to vote for the balisier. And so it has been for the past 55 years.
The WASA workers, sorry WASA people, understood it was not important to give good water supply or any water supply to the enemy out in the country areas, the Indian villages that don’t vote PNM.
Fast forward to today and the story is still the same. WASA is about jobs for the PNM gang, water supply to the nation is not important. After 55 years of not trying hard, more than 50% of the country doesn’t have reliable 24-hour water supply in their taps.
WASA can’t make their workers work, and they can’t fire them or retrench them for not working. What’s the proof of that?
Minister of public utilities say 11 months ago that WASA has 2,000 excess workers and they are moving to fix that problem at speed. Minister must be crawling on his belly.
Last month he said WASA has 3,000 people on the payroll who can’t be found, not on the job, not on any work gangs and he’s moving to deal with that situation.
How much of the 2,000 excess workers identified 11 months ago has he retrenched? None.
How many of the 3,000 limers just collecting pay and not even trying to work has he fired? None. Minister can’t fire them.
Those people’s jobs are more important than the minister, more important than supplying water to 50% of the country without good supply. Nothing has changed in 55 years.
Do I predict Trinidad will get 100% good water supply in 2051, thirty years from now? No way.
By 2071, fifty years from now? I don’t think so.
By 2121, one hundred years from now?
Somehow ah doesn’t tink so!
Make sure you buy buckets for your grandchildren to bathe, Trinis.
My point is that 3,000 names, or more than half of the 5,100 names on WASA’s payroll, cannot be found in person, and the minister cannot order that those names be struck off the payroll. The CEO of WASA cannot say these 3,000 people have not turned up for work for a week and have abandoned their jobs, so take them off the payroll.
My google search tells me the average salary for government employees in Trinidad is $10,000 a month, which means WASA is paying out $30 million TT EVERY MONTH to names that may not even correspond to living people, ghost workers we call them in Trinidad.
Say $10,000 is too high and make it $5,000 but you still get the crazy number of $15 million every month going out to ghost workers.
In comparison Ontario’s 12,400 government employees have an average salary of $82,000 a year or $6,833 per month. If we were paying out $20.5 million Canadian every month to 3,000 people who have not turned up for work for at least 11 months and probably years and years previously, and whom the government was powerless to cut from the payroll, what would happen?
Based on the Trinidad model, nothing at all.
There is NO outcry anywhere in Trinidad that these 3,000 WASA ghost workers names be cut from the payroll. WASA has paid out probably $301 million TT to these frauds in the last 11 months and probably several BILLION over the last 10 years to non-existent workers, but nobody at WASA has been fired for this, no minister of public utilities has resigned over it, no government has resigned.
That is the extent of the corruption, the incompetence, the waste that engulfs the shithole country that we once called our home and native land.
And it is echoed in most if not all of the government paid departments in Trinidad. We know the port has been acknowledged as having 1,000 excess workers since last November but I understand nobody has been sent home, no names have been struck off the payroll.
Nobody knows how many of the names on the government pay list are ghosts, nobody cares, nobody is outraged like you and I sitting down here in Toronto, Canada.
Truly, are you not ashamed to be a Trinidadian where this kind of thing has been accepted and condoned nationally over 60 years now?
A valid comparison would be the disclosure that the government of Canada, the provincial governments, the major religious groups have all been complicit in the abduction of the indigenous children for over 100 years and the existence of thousands of unmarked graves of indigenous children. Are we not all ashamed of this travesty, even us Caribbean people who have recently arrived and had no hand in it, because we are Canadian citizens now?
This country has done great wrong to the indigenous people, we have damaged our environment, we have millions living in poverty, we have done wrong to many of our women and our minority racial groups, but we acknowledge it, and we are trying to correct it where we can.
Our old country on the other hand, acknowledges no wrongdoing, makes no attempt to correct obvious mistakes, but says if you don’t like it, take your jahaji bundle and go from here!
Which we have done, my friend, which you and I have done.