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Jan 21, 2013

No water in Santa Martha Village; villagers up in arms

The village of Santa Martha is located off the Philip Goldson Highway; it is home to about six hundred residents of which about one hundred and sixty are of school age. This morning while the school doors were open, only two students showed up for classes. As in other communities, a problem over the lack of water has been festering for months and it came to head this morning when parents kept children away from classes. The villagers believe it has to do with unaccountability of funds and the water board is at the center of the issue. Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Parents from Santa Martha Village in Orange Walk gathered at the primary school bearing posters signaling their outrage that the village has been without water for the past six months. A meeting was held over the weekend and the parents agreed not to send their children to school until a solution is determined.

 

Luis Rodriguez

Luis Rodriguez, Villager

“My kids not coming to school because we have a little problem with water. The water system is not working in our community like for six months. We have a bad water board administration in this village. We made a meeting with the community and informed them that we have to do something to get water in this community so that government can hear we that we really need water. We have people that drive like a mile to get water in their vehicles everything. They go to the water pumps and they have little creek down Maskall side to pick up water and to wash in the creeks. People drinking water from wells and from the creek and that’s not good for your health. With the parents that we talked to yesterday we told them that we will keep the children home till we have a solution with the water in our community; if this take a week or two weeks, we don’t know how long it will take.”

 

Only two students from around one hundred and sixty  attended school today. According to the principal, it has been difficult managing the school without one of its basic needs. Alejandro Hernandez says that while they have been getting water from a nearby well, it is not a safe practice. He says that while the faculty is unable to close the school; they are in solidarity with the parents.

 

Alejandro Hernandez, Principal, Santa Martha Government School

“Well it was a surprise for us, the teachers, this morning. when we came here ready to work, we were met by some parents who informed me that there will be no classes because they will not send their children to school because there is no water for the past six months. Actually, maybe it might be longer than that. So as a sign of protest they are not sending their children to school.”

 

Monica Bodden, Channel 7

“How you guys manage the school for the past six months without having water?”

 

Alejandro Hernandez

Alejandro Hernandez

“It has been very difficult because water is a basic need—drinking, washing; hygiene. We go and ask neighbors to give us water from their well. We have seen that it is not a very safe practice; we supervise the children because not all the wells are covered. There is always the possibility of an accident; contamination, but we don’t have another choice.”

 

The villagers are of the view that the lack of water stems from lack of accountability of the funds with the water board.

 

Luis Rodriguez

“This thing run broke because the administration is bad. If they were administrating this properly, we neva mi wah ina this right now.”

 

Duane Moody

“So you are saying that monies weren’t paid to whoever is responsible to ensure that water is supplied to the business?”

 

Luis Rodriguez

“Yes I think that is the problem.”

 

Duane Moody

“How much do you guys actually pay for water?”

 

Luis Rodriguez

“We pay ten a month, but according to the chairman dehn still have people weh noh pay.”

 

Some residents have even stopped paying because it would amount to payment for services they are not getting. According to residents, the water dilemma started back in 2008 with the change of the water board.

 

Lourdes Ramirez

Lourdes Ramirez, Villager

“From since government tek place, dehn change the water board because well you know they have to change it. So from since then the problem begin because we have water sometimes and most of the times we don’t have water. And when the water go and come back, the water comes very dirty and yellow. And so and so all these years, we keep getting dirty water. And now six months now water gone forever.”

 

Duane Moody

“But are you guys paying for your water because I understand that there is a ten dollars fee monthly for your water? Are you guys paying?”

 

Maria Chi

Maria Chi, Villager

“I will tell you something boss. If you were in our community, would you pay ten dollars a month to receive water five days in a month with mud? We are willing, we always pay our service because we get it. but now we are not having it so we will not pay. In a month we get maybe five days, one week eight days, ten days—muddy water. When you throw it on the ground it left red, red, red, red, red; rusty water.”

 

The issue is that the reservoir is without power supply required to activate the pump that funnels water to the houses of villagers.  But what about the monies being paid to the water board and why hasn’t a solution been provided? Village Chairman, Nimrod Ramirez says he supports the villagers.

 

Nimrod Ramirez

Nimrod Ramirez, Chairman, Santa Martha Village

“I go ever often to see Mister Ruben or Mister Osorio, but they say that they are waiting so that B.E.L. put a transformer there so that it can be electrical now cause the machine that they had last time broke down and they took it to Shipyard and I think it is not going to work. We are waiting still. They say they are going to fix it and dehn noh come yet.”

 

Duane Moody

“Isn’t there funds that have racked up because of course the residents are paying their ten dollars monthly to have water. That’s money that is building up. Where is that money and why haven’t that money been used to get a generator or something in the meantime while the problem is being solved?”

 

Nimrod Ramirez

“I think that the reports; because the chairman of the water board is Beto Cantun. I think on all his reports that he has, I think all the money that he gets from the month, he spends it on fuel; so he never left no money.”

 

Duane Moody

“Fuel for what?”

 

Nimrod Ramirez

“For the water pump.”

 

But Chairman of the Water Board, Alberto Cantun, says that the twelve thousand dollars that his board inherited has been spent on trying to fix the water problem. He says that a permanent solution is in the pipeline.

 

Alberto Cantun

Alberto Cantun, Chairman, Santa Martha Water Board

“The solution is coming because the government done promise me to put the meter for the electricity of the village of Santa Martha. Belmopan, the minister, got it in his hand for right now. We are doing this thing from long time in application and application; we still doing it like that. The solution now is to get the application for the system in Santa Martha for the solution of the water for the children; that’s it.”

 

Duane Moody

“I know you said that you are working also on a permanent solution to get a transformer…”

 

Alberto Cantun

“A transformer for the village, yap.”

 

Duane Moody

“And will that end the water problems completely?”

 

Alberto Cantun

“Yes sir. We done pay already the bill for the electricity for the water system. Today we paid four hundred dollars to put the water system solution.”

 

Duane Moody

“So it’s just them, for the respective persons, to come and put it in place?”

 

Alberto Cantun

“Mister Cob is supposed to come.”

 

According to Canton, on Tuesday, the Ministry will be sending a truck to fill the reservoir with fifteen thousand gallons of water. But that is only a temporary solution.  Duane Moody for News Five.

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4 Responses for “No water in Santa Martha Village; villagers up in arms”

  1. Storm says:

    This village really needs an outside auditor, and a criminal investigation into where the funds have gone. Lack of running water is a serious health failure.

  2. Gapi is a Mennace! says:

    This falls squarely at the foot of DPM Vega!
    Vicitimization!

    He is spending all his resources in Trial Farm, who voted him in!

  3. nicos says:

    This is unfortunately a problem all around the country. Many water boards have management problems, but it starts from the top. The government need to allow these villages to select their own water board, many water boards are selected by the area rep and then shove down on the people. Many villages have very competent people to do this, but they stay away due to political manipulation.
    I don’t know who came up with the idea that water boards have lots of money. Those who charge a monthly flat rate struggle tremendously on a month to month basis just to pay their bill and pay their workers. I think that if GOB would allow the villagers to select their water board and remove all the politics and advocate for a businesslike approach we would have water boards running a lot better in this country!

  4. Bear says:

    GREAT IDEA, Nicos!

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