International review Investigation

Young tackles WASA corruption

Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte, right, together with Minister in the Office of Prime Minister Stuart Young open the valves of the new WASA Mc Kai Booster Station off the Lady Young Road in Belmont yesterday. Source: SUREASH CHOLAI.

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Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Stuart Young has signalled that he is going after corrupt practices that he claims went on at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) during the previous administration.

Speaking yesterday at the commissioning of WASA’s $2.2 million McKai Booster Station, Belmont, he said, “Two years ago – when it became known that one of the areas I will focus my efforts in the fight against corruption would be your institution, WASA – immediately as that became known, there was a fire at your headquarters.”

He continued, “I want to put the population on alert today. That work is going to continue now.” He said he would give the investigations direction. “We are going to clean up some of the corruption that exists. Those who are afraid of it need not be afraid, because you have the commitment of Government, and my personal commitment, in helping you to deal with that stage of work.”

Alluding to the proceedings that the Estate Management Business Development Company (EMBD) filed in the courts on Monday against former housing minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, three other people and five contractors “in our fight against corruption,” Young said, “Those proceedings are now before the court. As a government, we leave them there for the court to determine whether those acts of corruption, were really acts of corruption or not.”

Thanking WASA for completing the booster station, which will provide residents of McKai Lands with pipe-borne water after a 60-year wait, he said he was proud of the in-house staff who worked on the project and got the job done.

“The fact that you have started to utilise your workforce let us move away from contractors and the cartel of contractors that exists.” He said Government would support the effort and he was aware of the difficulty the authority faced from a lack of money to get the McKai project done.

The booster station, according to the director of programme and change management Denise Lee Sing, was estimated to cost $3.1 million. A total of $900,000 was saved on the station, which was completed two months ahead of schedule.

Lee Sing said the project, which would supply over 100 households with water, was done in two phases. It was conceptualised in 2014 by former manager the late Derek Hooker, who completed the first phase which entailed the laying of 1.5 km of PVC pipeline. The project was stalled after he died. The booster station was the second phase and has a design capacity of 135,360 gallons of water a day while being fed from the Picton Reservoir via the El Socorro Booster Station. Young said, even before the pipe was turned on yesterday, he had worked with the community to install water tanks at strategic points and WASA supported by filling the tanks.