Pollster says ABLP risks election backlash over water issues
By Elesha George
Political pollster and director of the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham has described years of unresolved water issues in Antigua and Barbuda as one of the Labor Party regime’s ‘major shortcomings’ of Antigua Barbuda (ABLP).
Water is a basic necessity in any country, but getting enough supply for household chores has proven to be a huge challenge for locals.
Wickham believes the ABLP’s failure to improve water supplies across the country could present a challenge when the general election is called.
“You come in with a promise to fix it; you should have fixed it and I think that’s a reasonable basis to criticize the administration,” he remarked.
In 2014, even as the country continued to suffer from what the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Service called “the worst drought since 2002/2003”, the ABLP built its re-election campaign on its ability to provide drinking water to the inhabitants, among others. solutions.
The party managed to convince voters to elect the Gaston-Browne-led regime, replacing the two-term United Progressive Party (UPP) government.
However, eight years later, Wickham calls the issue “scandalous”.
A scandal, in the sense that it is the same broken promise which, according to him, helped to overthrow the Baldwin Spencer administration.
Furthermore, Wickham said the problem is still rooted in the same issues that caused the UPP to collapse in 2014.
“I think the water situation is outrageous. The water issue helped bring down the Baldwin Spencer administration and I think it’s very unfortunate that we can still have this conversation after the first term of the Gaston Browne administration ends and the water issue water is always on the table”, he postulated.
Even with the ABLP’s efforts to increase water production by increasing the number of reverse osmosis facilities available on the island, the party has not been able to address the overall problems of storage and water retention caused by aging and leaking pipes.
Wickham recalled: ‘I remember the election where the government was changed which told me when I was in the field when I saw a lady in her church clothes with an SUV filling bottles water to take home to do good knows what. I thought this spoke loosely in relation to how the Baldwin Spencer administration set its priorities and the fact that similar scenarios are still playing out in various places in St John’s is outrageous.
Some residents believe that the issue of water scarcity is a political ploy used for decades to capture the voices of a population that lacks a resource needed to ensure proper health care and a decent standard of living.
There are also those who believe that only the utility company can solve the problem, while another fraction of the inhabitants says that it is enough to vote for the administration.
Despite plans to further increase reverse osmosis installations, with little or no rainfall in the coming months, a moderate to severe long-term drought is likely to affect Antigua and Barbuda by the end of May. 2022.
According to the latest Caribbean Drought Bulletin from the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Network (CDPMN), areas ending in long-term drought by the end of May are expected to experience “significantly reduced water levels in large reservoirs, large rivers and groundwater during the season”. .
In its forecast, the network said a drought warning should be considered not only for Antigua and Barbuda, but also for countries like Aruba, central and southern Belize, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Lucia.
A drought warning is the last level before a drought emergency is declared in these Caribbean countries.