Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson said yesterday that the corporation’s water supply and sewerage systems were sabotaged.
Around 11 p.m. Tuesday, water supply went off in several areas of New Providence, impacting households, Princess Margaret Hospital, Doctors Hospital, Baha Mar and many businesses.
Several areas had supply restored by 6 a.m.
However, many areas were still being addressed up to noon.
In a post on his Facebook page Tuesday night, Gibson said members of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) were involved with the disruption.
BUSAWU has denied the allegation.
Addressing the House of Assembly Wednesday morning, Gibson said, “After an illegal strike action yesterday and today, certain [people], intimately familiar with the workings of the Water and Sewerage Corporation have engaged in an illegal shutdown of the water supply in various parts of New Providence.
“As I sat here a moment ago, it was reported that the sewer network was also tampered with; as there were lift station overflows at Arawak Cay, Chippingham sewer station, as well as Pinewood Gardens.
“Mr. Speaker, throughout the night, pressure regulation valve alarms were going off across New Providence.
“This indicated that pressure regulating valves were being shut off throughout the island in a concerted and intentional effort to disrupt the water supply.
“Additionally, [people] threw stones and rocks into the valves to cause irreparable damage, major costs to WSC and untold hardship to our customers.
“The areas affected included Wulff Road, Prince Charles, Soldier Road, Fox Hill, Elizabeth Estates, Bain Town, Palmdale, Princess Margaret Hospital, Doctor’s Hospital, Baha Mar, and then, of course, as we checked, we had areas in southern New Providence, central and western New Providence; pretty much the entire island.
“As a result of these acts, the country was tremendously inconvenienced by this … disruption of a necessary amenity for thousands of Bahamians.
“We have mobilized emergency teams who are traveling to the various sites with police escort and are restoring the supply.
“Mr. Speaker, these malicious acts of sabotage [and] criminality are a sick effort to terrorize and inflict hardship upon Bahamians and residents, [and] come on the heel of condemnable and incendiary utterances made elsewhere.
“This has become a national security issue and has caused damage to WSC’s standing. It is simply unpatriotic.”
Gibson went on to say that the corporation had filed its second police complaint in two days.
He said that there was footage of a truck, familiar to managers and staff at WSC entering the compound via the back gate. He said the truck stayed for two to three minutes before the driver chained the gates and knocked out the camera.
However, BUSAWU President Dwayne Woods yesterday refuted that the union was involved.
“I would like to say to the nation, the union does not and will never condone wrongdoing,” Woods said.
“I hear some allegations that there were tampering with valves and stuff made by the chairman but nothing could be further from the truth.
“The union would never do such a thing to put the public [at a disability].
“Secondly, I don’t believe any of my members would go out there and actually do something like that.
“I say that to say this, it’s a fact that if the system is not manned that it will actually need to be [bled] at some point in time and I believe that the system may have fallen due to air pockets in the system and that may have caused the disruption.
“You know the chairman is a lawyer, he’s not well versed in the type of work we do on a daily basis.
“So, he will obviously try to flim flam the public to make them believe as though we are doing some illegal act.
“If it’s so, I suggest that he call the police and have the person who he claims to have done such an act arrested and I will support him wholeheartedly with that.”
He continued, “Don’t condemn us on allegations from someone who is seeking a higher position on the backs of innocent people.”
On Tuesday, Woods and union members demonstrated a “withdrawal of enthusiasm” outside WSC’s Thompson Boulevard headquarters.
Their concerns were that executives were attempting to minimize the influence of the representative trade union by blatantly disrespecting, intimidating, victimizing and discriminating against union members.
According to Woods, one of the union’s primary concerns was the recent five-day suspension of a union member for leaving his personal vehicle on WSC grounds over the weekend.
Additionally, Woods claimed that “friends, family and lovers” at the corporation have been promoted over hard-working employees.
Yesterday in the House, Gibson responded to Woods’ comment about “lovers” being promoted.
“Mr. Speaker I would like to call on all right-thinking Bahamians to condemn the disparaging sexist remarks made about women at the corporation and their upward mobility,” Gibson said.
“These remarks are disgraceful, reckless and entirely unacceptable.”
Woods offered an apology on Wednesday.
“First of all, I would like to be a bigger man and apologize to all the women in my union for a statement I would have made yesterday,” he said.
“I made it in the heat of the moment and I think I shouldn’t have said that.
“So, I’d like to retract that first and foremost because it takes a big man to say, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Water and Sewerage Management Union Ednel Rolle said that he thinks collusion was involved in an attempt to frame the union.
“There have been accusations of employees tampering with the water system,” Rolle said.
“I have a problem with that [because] this morning I woke up with no water and I happen to be an employee of the Water and Sewerage corporation.
“Now, our water system is … monitored by a private contractor.
“Any tampering of that, the private contractor would know within 10 minutes.
“So, for that many areas of this country to wake up with no water, means that either the private contractor failed on their job of monitoring the system or the corporation and them had possible collusion…”
To these claims, Gibson replied, “Foolishness”.
Gibson said that the corporation is working on additional security measures and all water systems have been restored.
He added that it continues to work on some sewerage systems due to electrical tampering.