Last year September, villagers of Silk Grass turned to us as a last resort in appealing to the authorities to address their growing issues surrounding the village water board. In March 2014, the village chairman, who is a defacto member of the village water board, wrote to the Minister of Rural Development calling for the immediate removal of the water board chairman Eyon Brooks saying that Brooks had lost the confidence of majority of the water board members and residents of silk grass village. Three other members of the water board signed the letter, but it went unanswered. In September, they wrote again to the Minster of rural Development, listing the following as reasons for calling for his immediate removal. “1. He refuses to issue monthly bills, 2. Disconnecting without consulting with the people, 3. Over charging reconnection fee, 4. Refuses to attend meetings, to discuss the water board issues and 5. He has also refused to flush out the water system requested from the Health Inspector from Dangriga branch.” The letter was also signed by three other members of the water board, but again it went unanswered by the Minister of Rural Development Godwin Hulse. Now, according to the village chairman, the Belize Electricity Limited is threatening to cut the water board’s electrical supply for being over 4 thousand dollars in arrears. Without electricity, water cannot be pumped up to the village vat and as a result the villagers water supply will be cut. The village chairman, Solomon Andrews explained the dilemma in an interview last week Wednesday.
Solomon Andrews, Chairman of Silk Grass – “Last week Friday I get a bill from the BEL office that stated that we owe $5,692.54 and if the Minister woulda listen me, we wouldn’t be in this problem that we have. So yesterday, Mr. Banner from the Rural Development he came and had a meeting with us and he told me, word ah mouth nuh, that they paid $4,000 towards this bill but now we still have an outstanding of $1,692.54.”
Reporter – “Now, is BEL threatening to turn off the pump or have they turned off the pump already?”
Solomon Andrews – “Well, on last week Friday, that was the message that we supposed to get cut out if this bill doesn’t get paid and so that’s where it becomes a big concern for me and there’s where I start to investigate more and so that’s the reason we get the Rural Development Officer in.”
According to the chairman, the waterboard bill needs to be paid with monies collected from village water bills.
Solomon Andrews – “On last week Sunday, we had a public meeting and so the people they decide that – we talk how we going to resolve this problem -and so the people said that let’s do something and we nominate our people off the floor to form a new board but according to Mr. Banner yesterday, that that won’t work. So, we want to know if it’s the voice of the people from our community or the stage that we’re in or it’s the voice of the Minister that the mess that he has us in because I blame it directly on the Minister of Rural Development because if he would’ve listened to me and they don’t dictate from out there to my community, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
Members of the Silk Grass Community have been appealing for a financial audit of the water board since last year but, according to the village chairman the response they’ve gotten from the Ministry leaves much to be desired.