Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley taking a closer look at part of the old cast iron structure at the Belle Pumping Station during a tour of the facility today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley is asking the public to be patient as crews from the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), assisted by private contractors, work around the clock to carry out emergency repairs at the Belle Pumping Station.

The repair work on a section of critical infrastructure that was in danger of collapsing, commenced from 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 10, and will continue through the night until the securing of the pumps and structure supporting them, is completed.

Ms. Mottley, officials from the Ministry of Transport, Work and Water Resources and Senior Minister Dr. William Duguid, saw the progress of the work this afternoon and were briefed by the top brass of the BWA.

The Prime Minister, in a statement at the end of her visit, stressed that the “old cast iron [structure] at the pumping station laid down by the British more than a century ago”, needed to be replaced without further delay.

“So, we hope that we can do what we have to do here because we couldn’t take any further delays in ensuring that we deal with this matter, because if that pump fell in through that platform, then we would be losing a pump and we would be using far more time than two or three days. One-third of the country effectively relies on the Belle Pumping Station, so that gives you an idea of the scale of the problem,” she explained.

Ms. Mottley added: “We ask the public of Barbados to be patient with us because what we’re doing is replacing ageing infrastructure that is older than all of us and to that extent therefore, it is essential that we do it also from an occupational health and safety perspective.”

Ms. Mottley noted that the initial work had taken longer than expected because workmen had to do additional unanticipated corrective work that added six hours to the job.

Director of Engineering at the BWA, Charles Leslie, explained the scope of the work undertaken.

“The Barbados Water Authority started the process of changing out the structure that supports the pumps yesterday. And as the Prime Minister indicated, we did not anticipate the level of corrosion and the sophistication and the detail of the structure that was installed at the time. We have taken a bit longer than anticipated, but we’re trying to do the work as safely as we can, and still get it done as efficiently as we can.”

He added that now that they had overcome the initial hurdles, the work would be accelerated and the job completed in a shorter overall time, but warned consumers that even after water starts flowing again it could take another 24 to 48 hours for the network to be completely recharged.

Meanwhile, private contractor assisting the BWA with the project, Anstie Greenidge, assured affected consumers that the work should be completed by tomorrow, despite the hiccups encountered earlier.

The Belle Pumping Station pumps approximately nine million gallons of water per day but was currently pumping at a reduced capacity of seven million gallons.

The Prime Minister thanked the workers from the BWA and the Ministry for ‘stepping up’ during this national effort to minimise the disruption of service to householders and businesses.

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