The compound of the Water and Sewerage Authority at Farm Road, St Joseph.
CAMILLE McEACHNIE

Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Private Security Services Association threaten to suspend services to the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), if the authority does not begin paying outstanding arrears of over $30 million, which began accumulating over one year ago.

WASA reportedly owes a total of $30,532,817, to date.  The water authority says it is looking into the matter.

According to the association, over 300 workers stand to lose their jobs if their members go ahead with the planned action.

The group outlined its members’ plight in letters to WASA’s managers on May 4, June 11, and June 17, 2021.

The letters, which noted the financial hardships facing members, were addressed to the authority’s Director Corporate Services Aldwin Browne, and copied to Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales, Chairman Dr. Lennox Sealy, and Senior Manager Finance Chantelle James.

On May 4, the association told WASA it could neither pay its workers properly nor meet its commitments to financial institutions. Guardian Media understands some firms can only afford to pay workers half their salaries and, in some cases, workers are owed several months’ pay.

The letter also pointed out that the authority had stopped issuing purchase orders for security services it continued to receive.

The association said it wanted WASA to pay 50 percent of the outstanding balance immediately, schedule payment for the rest, and pay current invoices.

On June 11, the association again reached out to WASA, indicating that WASA had not replied to the May 4 letter.

This time, the association said it could no longer endure the breach of contractual obligations and would withdraw its security services from June 18, unless the arrears were paid.

“To date, the amount outstanding to member companies is $30,352,827.38 … Please accept this that with effect from June 18, 2021, all security services provided by us will be suspended…” the association wrote.

On June 17, WASA called a virtual meeting with the security firms.

The details of the meeting are outlined in the June 17 letter.  The association reminded WASA of its promise to begin clearing the arrears before June 24, 2021, after receipt of its subvention from the Government. It noted that its members would continue providing services until that date.

WASA acknowledges the situation and promised to look into the matter.

In an emailed response to Guardian Media’s query on the matter, WASA’s Manager of Corporate Communications wrote: 

“The matter has been receiving the attention of the Water and Sewerage Authority, and arrangements are being made to have a payment plan put in place to address the situation.”

On June 30, Guardian Media reached out to the association’s secretary Kenneth Green for an update. He said WASA paid some members for one month of their services.