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Jul 14, 2014

Residents mount impromptu demonstration over water in Santa Familia

San Ignacio Police had to be called in to keep the peace in the small community of Santa Familia on Sunday, as villagers massed near the community centre. They’re concerned about water issues in the village. They have access to that precious commodity for only a few hours each day, and even when they do have access, the water is often dirty. The village has a new water system, and very soon, a new meter system – but they want to know what that will mean in terms of water access, and water cost. So they went looking for answers, and they didn’t ask nicely. Our news team was in Santa Familia on Sunday and Mike Rudon has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

For many of us, water is a precious commodity, but access to it is something we take for granted. We turn on a tap, or pipe, and it’s just there. But the situation is far different in the small community of Santa Familia in the Cayo District. They have little access to potable water – sometimes as little as two hours a day.


Zenie Guerra

Zenie Guerra, Resident, Santa Familia Village

“From Monday to Friday and Sunday we don’t have water…from eight we have until nine…but then afterwards we don’t have until five the evening and then sometimes they cut it off seven…it depends on which part you live.”


Mirlet Humes, Resident, Santa Familia Village

“Various parts of the village don’t have water, or water all day. It comes probably at six and it goes at nine and then until six in the evening. We want the situation to be fixed because it’s not fair for some people to be paying for the water and they don’t get water all day, or probably weeks. These people have been saying that for years and nothing has been done.”


Abel Carrillas

Abel Carrillas, Resident, Santa Familia Village

“I sometimes come out five o’clock to go work, and when I want to go bathe, there’s no water. And when I got a bus to go five o’clock in the evening to Cayo, when I go I can’t bathe again because water is not available. When I come ten o’clock water is done already, so for what we have water system then? So we need to see. Like how I am seeing a new water system, maybe it will work later, but for now it is really bad.”


For Abel Carrillas, a resident of the community for sixty-one years, a lot of hope lies in the new water system. It’s coming on-stream soon, along with a new metering system. And that’s where the problem lies…residents feel that they have been kept in the dark where the meters are concerned.


Zenie Guerra

“We would want a change because…if they say they want to put meters…how come they want to put meters and there is no water. And usually when you put the water, the water from the pipe is very dirty. So how come you will put water and it is dirty and then you want to put a meter also. Meanwhile you’re letting the pipe run to let out the dirty water, the meter is running right. So how comes he wants to put meter and the water is dirty? You have to really see what we villagers can do because if they want to put meters they have to put water whole day and whole night.”


Mirlet Humes

Mirlet Humes

“A lot of villagers are very unhappy because they haven’t given us much information. I know probably the majority are fine with it that they put meters, but they have to do it the right way.”


So on Sunday afternoon…after the World Cup game of course, residents gathered near the community centre to hold a meeting to discuss the way forward with the meters. The meeting was to have been inside the Community Centre but Village Council Chairman Gobin Carrillas refused to open the centre. So the villagers decided to go to his house and get the keys. And that’s where the first confrontation occurred. When things got a little loud, Carrillas’s wife ordered everyone off the property and called the Police.


The gathering moved to the front of the Community Centre, and an impromptu, very vocal meeting took place, with the Chairman of the Village Council taking some heat over the proposed meter system. The residents want to know what it will mean for them in terms of water flow and cost.


Gobin Carrillas, Chairman, Village Council

“The issue right now is that one of the conditions in order for us to have the water system is to implement a meter, something that we do not have within the village right now, right? So then that’s where the whole issue is right now. Cause we have one individual who is causing chaos and confusion within the people that when this water project starts and when the meters come in we will have one, higher prices in regards to paying water and two, at the end it might not even be ours – it might go to a private company who might benefit from all the funds that the water might make.”



Gobin Carrillas

“What’s the truth with the water metres? Is there a concern that they will have to pay more and is that really what will happen, or are the metres just to regulate the flow of water?”


Gobin Carrillas

“The metres are for two things – one, to regulate the flow of water, in the sense that what happens in the village is that people misuse the water. People don’t fix their pipes and people leave their water running and that’s why only certain people within the village get the water when it comes on. The other thousands of gallons or how much gallons are just wasted, so that people within a far range do not get the water they need…so that’s why we got a new tank, and that’s why the project was started. It will, it might then, cause people to pay more in the sense of them misusing the water. But that’s the whole point, right. We want to make sure that the whole community gets water. If you misuse the water, it’s only fair that you pay the amount that you have to pay, right?”


Eventually Police arrived, summoned by the Chairman’s wife. They dispersed the crowd, saying that it was an illegal gathering, and not a meeting. Mike Rudon for News Five.


The questions surrounding the new system are still unanswered, but there will be an official meeting on July twentieth with representatives of the Social Investment Fund and the Ministry of Rural Development to clarify those issues.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Residents mount impromptu demonstration over water in Santa Familia”

  1. Rod says:

    This gov di take unu fu bubu no let this corrupt gov. Put no meters because then only the udp will get water can’t you all see that this whole thing is for political reasons if you da udp you wa get water if you da pup you have to beg fu water no make this happen lock up whoever is in charge lock them up

  2. anon. says:

    Amigo.this is not political at all.! It is true that we have a water shortage issue that currently is affecting the community, but you have to know why. From ever since the community’s water supply has been provived, or pumped from a well, and up to now its one of the cleanest and healthiest water to consume. The issue of not being able to supply to everyone is due to the following factors:1. Population growth and expansion throughout the community 2. People believe that because they pay the fixed rate of $10 for water a month they can misuse water any they want 3. Some people believe they dont have to fix their broken pipes or faucet, some people believe that because there is a goverment, that they should fix there pipes and faucet..its just irresponsible and ignorant… the watertank and project is no way affilated with any private or government…in fact it was funded by the goverment through NGO S.I.F.. once the project is completed the water will still managed by the communites waterboard, and funds collected will be 100% for the sustainabilty of the service for the people equally.. it is a shame to classify people because of their political affilation, and believe me you that the persons in charge have no intrest in knowing who is what… If they are involved in this change its because the community really needs it… If we open our eyes its not really any goverment who makes anything political but the people who classify and judge of who is who..and just use the excuse of the goverment being at fault… its immoral and done right immature…if the people want to see change growth and develpoment, we need to wake up get up and start being a part of is our country too not just the goverments…

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