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PSA President Watson Duke speaks with the media during a press conference where he spoke on various topics at the PSA Headquarters, Abercrmby Street,Port-of-Spain

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

Public Service Association president Watson Duke has called on the Prime Minister to say whether his wife is linked to contracts at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA.)

Duke’s call comes just two days after he admitted his wife held contracts in WASA. At a press conference yesterday, Duke said both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and National Security Minister Stuart Young have questions to answer about possible political patronage at the utility company.

Duke said although he is still employed at WASA, he has been on no-pay leave for a number of years. He said he does not sit on any tender boards and has no authority to grant contracts.

“We want to ask the Prime Minister, whether his wife who is a very good lawyer, she is connected to any firm at all that does work for WASA? We want to ask the question. He must answer these questions. We want to ask Stuart Young whether he has a brother that carries out contracts in WASA?” Duke asked.

He said while the Government said WASA was inefficient, they have been starving the entity for funding.

“They are not spending the money, sometimes they have no alum, no lime, no polymer, they have none of these things- sometimes the whole treatment plan breakdown and the Minister is talking about these treatment plants in disrepair.”

He said many of the workers were sacrificing their health while working on the treatment plants.

“We will adopt a zero-tolerance approach just now and we are not afraid of any one of you, you all are a bunch of lazy people,” Duke said.

He also questioned the hiring of several women, saying WASA has been used as a political football for too long.

“Under this PNM, they have employed several people in big management positions. One of them goes by the name Arlene, yes, Arlene, she was employed. Alyuh must ask (Public Utilities Minister Marvin) Gonzales who is Arlene. What is her claim to fame? She is in audit, has she worked in audit before? What is her track record? Was the position advertised?” he asked.

He also named several other women who he said were hired while the PNM was in government.

He said with WASA in dire financial straits, the hiring of these women raises many questions.

“When you bring someone and pay them $40,000 a month, they have no history, no track record in excellence in their department but you bring them in…we want to if it is because those people wave the balisier.”

Duke said he has learned that the Government plans to purchase Desalcott for $210 Million.

“Did anybody do the feasibility study of that? The cost/benefit analysis of that? $210M, they want to buy it. Is it a kickback? A true and honest price?”

He repeated his calls for WASA employees to stay at home today (Tuesday), saying if any employee is fired for heeding the call, the union will act.

“Show no remorse, take a day off! Spend it with your family, you rest, reflect and reset your mental buttons. We will deal with them on Wednesday. They could write down your name, your address, they could say they firing you, the day they touch you, the WASA workers, I am telling you, they are going to get something.”

Guardian Media Limited sent questions to both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and National Security Minister Stuart Young about Duke’s questions on political patronage.

There was no response from Rowley but Young replied, “Tell Watson Duke that my brother is an employee of a financial institution and conducts all of his business independent of me and well above board. I do not know what business the bank that my brother works with has. However, I can say without fear of contradiction that it would all be above board.”

He said Duke should be asked if he can say same of his dealings and those of his wife.