GLEANER- The Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) activated a contingency plan Wednesday as a strike by National Water Commission (NWC) staff disrupted supplies across the island for a second day.
“At all of our hospitals in the region, we have reserve water for two days at least, and at the Accident and Emergency wards, there is water for about five days. But the truth is, if the water does not come back today (Wednesday), it will pose a challenge,” WRHA Clinical Coordinator Dr Delroy Fray told The Gleaner.
He disclosed that three health centres across Hanover and St James were making similar arrangements.
“We cannot just sit and wait,” he added, even as news surfaced of a possible deal being struck for normal operations to resume at the NWC yesterday evening.
NWC workers had been protesting over a reclassification exercise which has been unsettled since 2008.
The disruption also affected court proceedings across the country. At the St James Parish Court, hearings were adjusted as defendants in custody were not transported to court.
A number of schools, including Green Island High, Rhodes Hall High and Rusea’s High in Hanover, were also impacted.
Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Janet Silvera said that at least two businesses were directly affected.
Some Portland schools have returned to online classes amid a crippling water crisis caused by strike action at the NWC.
Port Antonio High, Boundbrook Primary, Boundbrook Basic, and Drapers Primary are among institutions which engaged students virtually yesterday.
Despite the challenges, schools such as Titchfield High and Happy Grove High were still engaging in face-to-face mode up to Wednesday, the second day of the strike.
“ … There is enough water in storage to conduct school operations [on Wednesday]. Throughout the day, we will continue to make an assessment and respond accordingly,” Titchfield High advised in a statement.
Happy Grove Principal Monique Grant-Facey told The Gleaner that all her tanks were full.
“I normally ensure that I have water in my storage so I can ensure that I can go through the day, but I know if it doesn’t comes back later on, then I will have a struggle [on Thursday],” she said.
Port Antonio Mayor Paul Thompson said that the strike has put a serious strain on the resources of the Portland Municipal Corporation, which now has to ramp up trucking services amid the surging demand.
NWC Portland Parish Manager Richard Williams confirmed to The Gleaner that all the water systems in the parish were down yesterday.
ST ANN, TRELAWNY: Virtual classrooms reactivated at several schools
As the water crisis gripped the parishes of St Ann and Trelawny Wednesday, several schools reactivated their virtual classrooms to cope with the crisis.
The Ministry of Education’s Region Three director, Karle Segree, confirmed reports that classes at both campuses of the Marcus Garvey Technical High School were held online as strike action continued at the NWC.
It was a similar situation at Ocho Rios Primary, Ocho Rios High, St Ann’s Bay Infant, Steer Town Primary and Junior High, and Steer Town Academy.
At St Ann’s Bay Primary, students were instructed to log on virtually for the afternoon shift, following regular classes for the morning shift.
“It hasn’t affected Brown’s Town High or York Castle, as they have water in their tanks,” Segree pointed out.
Classes were held as usual at Ferncourt High and Grant’s Mountain Primary, even as water supplies ran low.
In Trelawny, Holland High, Granville All-Age, Falmouth All-Age and Falmouth Infant schools also held online classes.
Meanwhile, the crisis forced several businesses in Ocho Rios and other major towns in St Ann to close early.
St Ann Chamber of Commerce President Vana Taylor said that all businesses were affected to some extent.