by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Many residents in St. Kitts will once again enjoy basic amenities within their homes with the reconnection of their water and or electricity supply.
Dr Terrance Drew announced during the House of Assembly on Monday, September 18, that the Government’s Independence 40 Reset Initiatives, which includes the Water Reset and the Electricity Arrears Reset, will be extended to a number of people.
“All residential SKELEC and Water Services customers currently disconnected will be reconnected. This is a reset after 40 years of Independence, this is a reset. We are saying to the people, we’re going to give you an opportunity to have easier access to our most important resource after human resource, which is land, and we’re also going to give you an opportunity to once again have basic utility services in your home.”
Customers with arrears were also given an opportunity to organise a deferred payment plan with SKELEC or the Water Services Department and are expected to make regular payments. However, actions could be taken against those individuals if compliance is not upheld.
Many people encountered significant challenges, such as loss of jobs or shortened work hours, which affected their income. As a result, many ran into difficulties in paying their bills and stood the risk of having their amenities cut. An electricity subsidy of approximately 9 million dollars per month has already been extended to the people of St. Kitts, but some challenges remain.
“Our people would have gone through a couple [of] difficulties through COVID. Madam Speaker, when we did the assessment, many of them [are] without electricity. Some people make fun and say that some people have to light candles, but it’s not a laughing matter. It is not a laughing matter; it is a very, very serious matter.” said PM Drew.
He added, “Some of them have special medication that has to be at a particular temperature, but they can’t keep it at a particular temperature because of the challenges. Let’s think about our Taxi drivers, for example, who did not work for almost two years; our bus drivers, who had a significant reduction; our farmers, our small business people in the communities who had to close their businesses because of the frequent lockdowns due to the COVID situation and then the restrictions that were extended. Madam Speaker, a lot of people were hurt. They had to prioritise whether they had to pay a bill or buy a tablet; medicine or bill, medicine or food. We understand the supply chain issues with the increase of food across the world, and so this has put some stress and strain on the people of the world, not only on St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The Prime Minister advised people to be responsible and to practise energy-saving measures.
“We’re asking you to also be responsible. Be responsible. You have your electricity; tell your children when you finish charging your phone, take it out. Don’t leave your charger plugged up; you’re finished with the fan, take it out; you’re ironing your clothes, try to iron as much together instead of a shirt today, a shirt tomorrow, a shirt the next day. These things carry up your electricity bill. Turn off your light when you are not using a particular room, avoid opening your fridge every two minutes. You know you have to go in for something, you go in and then you clothes. These measures can significantly help.”
Likewise, the conversation continues that people need to conserve water, especially as water has become a scarce commodity. The Government has turned to water rationing to reduce water demand and has negotiated a water supply agreement with the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.
People are encouraged to perform water-saving practices like turning off the pipe when brushing their teeth, turning off the shower when soaping their skin, filling the sink with water when washing the dishes, using a bucket of water when washing vehicles and getting leaks rectified.