Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 7th 2016 Contents YVONNE BABOOLAL
Former minister of the environment and
water resources, Ganga Singh, says he fears
no audit into the Water and Sewerage
Authority (WASA) because "all processes
were followed" under his tenure.
He made the claim yesterday as specu-
lation continued that the fire which hit the
Record Department at the utility s St Joseph
headquarters may have been maliciously
set to destroy critical records ahead of a
Noting he was happy no one was injured
in the "mysterious" fire which destroyed
most of the second floor of the adminis-
trative complex, where confidential "Blue
Files" containing information about gov-
ernment contracts were kept, he insisted
all was above board in the award of contracts
when he was minister.
"All processes were followed. I have no
problem with respect to any kind of audit,"
he said in a telephone interview.
Singh said the new Government was
merely flexing its muscles with the audit
but claimed it was also withholding vital
information with respect to it.
"The audit is a matter for the current
administration. They are demonstrating
they are in charge," he added.
He said, however, the Government simply
announced there was going to be an audit
into WASA without disclosing how much
that audit would cost or its terms of ref-
Singh is also calling for a speedy end to
investigations into the cause of the fire.
"My hope is they find the cause of the
firely quickly to put an end to speculation
in the public domain," he said.
Fire broke out in Block B, Building Nine,
in the main four-storey building at 4.45 pm
Tuesday after most of the employees had
already left work.
The second floor, where files which may
be related to government contracts awarded
for water projects and private development
enterprises were kept, was completely
WASA s correspondence with customers
and the company s Information Systems
Department were also kept on that floor.
Workers said yesterday the second floor
fire "touched" the floors above and beneath
it, which were also filled with smoke and
were damaged by water when fire officers
put out the blaze. Workers have been sent
home "until further notice."
The fire came after a new board appointed
by the People s National Movement (PNM)
Government ordered an audit into WASA
because of "certain irregularities" it observed.
Executive members of the utility were
demoted or sent on leave to facilitate that
After Tuesday s fire, speculation was rife
among workers and members of the public
that it was an attempt to destroy files relating
to questionable contracts awarded during
the last administration.
Under the People s Partnership govern-
ment, WASA, which was under Singh s
portfolio, embarked on a water for all pro-
Singh had said the then government had
"made significant investments to improve
availability and consistency of fresh, clean
water for families in T&T."
He said then "over 1,000 kilometres of
pipeline have helped to increase the number
of homes receiving water from under 17 per
cent when we took office in 2010 to over
74 per cent today."
Thursday, January 7, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
For breaking news, call 225-4465 Exts 2032, 2033 or email us at email@example.com
The official cause of
the fire that destroyed
the second floor of the
Water and Sewerage
Authority s (WASA)
main building at its St
complex is yet to be
Yesterday, fire offi-
cials began investiga-
tive work at the site
while workers were
ordered to stay home
until further notice.
But while the official cause of the fire has not
yet been found, workers on the compound yesterday
said they strongly suspect it may have something
to do with important documents relating to con-
tracts, minutes of board meetings and other devel-
opment projects which were kept in "Blue Files"
on that particular floor and a coming audit.
The T&T Guardian spoke to a senior WASA offi-
cial on the condition of anonymity who said contrary
to an initial claim, he was not sure the authority
had backup files.
WASA s communications manager Daniel Plenty
said on Tuesday they did have backup files as he
sought to dispel speculation the fire was related to
records kept on the second floor and the impending
audit. He said not all of the authority s records were
kept at St Joseph.
But yesterday, the WASA source, recalling the
scene when the fire broke out, said: "WASA s alarm
is always going off. We always have bomb scares
"When the alarm went off Tuesday evening, a
few of the workers who were still in the building
did not take it on. People expected a false alarm
and never thought a real fire could have broken
out. This is the first time this ever happened at
Public Services Association president Watson
Duke, meanwhile, yesterday dismissed suggestions
WASA employees could have had a hand in the
"I will not think that people will do that here,"
he said at a press conference. (See page A5)
He admitted that the blaze took place on the
eastern side of the building, which housed "a whole
range of offices ... (including) the CEO s office, the
Information Systems, the purchasing and supply
(office), so it is a very important area."
On Tuesday, Plenty said in his 25 years at the
company he had never experienced something like
that. He said his own office, the Communications
Department, was also housed on the second floor
and the fire would also affect operations in other
departments but could not say to what extent.
Plenty assured that dislocated staff would be
relocated and said no one would lose their jobs.
While some seven fire tenders sought to extinguish
the blaze with high-powered water hoses, workers
stood around the building quietly watching on
One female employee said she was in shock.
Outside, on Farm Road, residents gathered on
the sidewalk also sadly watching the building burn.
"This is a landmark," a woman said. A group of
women felt "politics" was behind the fire.
Officials search for clues but...
Singh not afraid of WASA audit
A mobile police post remains stationed outside the administrative headquarters of the Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) yesterday
following Tuesday's fire which destroyed the Records Department. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
fire no accident
Links Archive January 6th 2016 January 8th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page