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$20 not too much for ‘free water’

Antoinette Connell

$20 not too much for ‘free water’

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A couple of weeks ago there was a man holding up a key and declaring himself keeper of water in The Belle, St Michael area.
This man, according to our reports, which I wholeheartedly believe, is actually in control of the lone pipe at Odessa McClean Road, St Michael, from which nearby squatters in The Belle access water using a makeshift pipeline.
Squatters, which these residents never deny that they are, are by definition occupying property or land to which they have no legal right.
Let’s examine the situation as it exists. A number of years ago with the blessings of a former Member of Parliament some nomadic Bajans took up residence in the precious Zone 1 water area in The Belle. The utility company, as a responsible entity, could not afford to be as sentimental as the vote-seeking Government and refused to make any water connections.
Potentially dangerous
Thus far the ill-advised and selfish decision has not led to a national disaster though reportedly there was a salmonella outbreak several years ago and for health reasons authorities allowed the squatters to collect water from the pipe at the National Petroleum Corporation.
But here it is that the squatters have racked up a $20 000 water bill from using the pipe at the vacant NPC property. The residents are already living rent-free and free of water bills.
Then someone dared to suggest that the residents living under these potentially dangerous circumstances should contribute $20 towards the water bill. I thought I would have heard a ready “yes”. I certainly do not think that is too bad an idea.
There has been silence on the matter except for the key-keeper agreeing with the suggestion.
Mind you, we are already breaking the law here but the conscionable thing would be to take the suggestion, whether real or imagined, and donate the $20. That cannot be too much money under the circumstances.   
Can any of these residents seriously expect the authorities to endorse their continued acts of irresponsibility? Come, now.
One can understand how after years of a rent- and water bill-free lifestyle the prospect of paying for something might be unsettling for these residents.
But what could be so hard about offering up $20 to compensate the state which has been so lenient to you in the past?
I do not believe any of the squatters understand the gravity of what they might truly costs the country if a crisis occurs.  
Aesop keeps me in check
I thoroughly endorse Aesop’s Fable as a way of keeping myself in check. His simple view of situations and human nature has me in awe. Below is one of his many morally inspired tales.
The Man And The Satyr
A man had lost his way in a wood one bitter winter’s night. As he was roaming about, a Satyr came up to him, and finding that he had lost his way, promised to give him a lodging for the night, and guide him out of the forest in the morning. As he went along to the Satyr’s cell, the Man raised both his hands to his mouth and kept on blowing at them.
“What do you do that for?” said the Satyr.
“My hands are numb with the cold,” said the Man, “and my breath warms them.”
After this they arrived at the Satyr’s home, and soon the Satyr put a smoking dish of porridge before him. But when the Man raised his spoon to his mouth he began blowing upon it.
“And what do you do that for?” said the Satyr.
“The porridge is too hot, and my breath will cool it.”
“Out you go,” said the Satyr. “I will have nought to do with a man who can blow hot and cold with the same breath.”
•Antoinette Connell is the DAILY NATION Editor. Email [email protected]