3038254
Flashback Janruary, Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales checks the valve at the water tank on Lady Chancellor Road.

A senior official at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) is currently under investigation on allegations of misconduct for misleading Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales about water scheduling in Paramin.

The probe is the second to take place by WASA against the senior official in a matter of weeks.

Last December, the Sunday Guardian reported that frustrated Paramin residents had reached out to Gonzales to complain they had not received a water supply in weeks and pleaded for his intervention.

Upon inquiring, Gonzales was told that WASA needed to sort out some technical issues.

Then, he got a report that the entire community was receiving a pipe-borne supply.

However, Gonzales said the residents kept telling him their taps were still dry since November.

Gonzales, however, set up a meeting with the affected residents, the senior official and a WASA management team to get to the root of the problem only to find out that the residents had been speaking the truth about their supply being disrupted for weeks.

Gonzales came to the conclusion that he was deliberately misled and deceived by the senior official.

What was also disturbing, Gonzales said was that no disciplinary action had been taken against the employee, stating that in any serious organisation the employee would have been suspended.

He also told the Sunday Guardian that some managers working in various regions had not been informing their bosses about problems on the ground so corrective action can be taken.

However, the minister’s reaction sparked an immediate investigation by WASA on allegations of misconduct.

On February 17, WASA issued a letter to the senior official.

The letter obtained by Guardian Media was sent by WASA’s Head, Employee and Labour Relations, Marielle Hilaire and copied to acting director of operations Sherland Sheppard and acting director of human resources May Ann Diaz.

“The Industrial relations department is in receipt of (an) investigative report dated December 23, 2020. The initial findings highlight unprofessional, inaccuracies and misrepresentation by yourself as it is alleged that you erroneously advised the Honourable Minister of Public Utilities that the area was in receipt of a pipe-borne water supply thereby acting contrary to the Code of Ethics and Business Conduct,” the letter stated.

The letter further explained that based on the nature of the aforementioned and the ramifications to the authority “an investigation will be conducted to ascertain the legitimacy of claims of misconduct.”

Hilaire informed the senior official that Raffie David, Head Wastewater Projects, has been appointed to investigate and report on the allegations.

Guardian Media was told the senior official has been employed with WASA for over 15 years.

WASA advised the senior official to give David his fullest cooperation.

Contacted yesterday, Gonzales refused to comment on the matter, while calls to WASA’s acting CEO Alan Poon King’s cellphone went unanswered.