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Julian Francis water tanks

A composite image of the water tanks in Ottley Hall and Sentar Julian Francis speaking in Parliament on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

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The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has 643 water tanks of various sizes in storage at Ottley Hall, Minister of Local Government Julian Francis told Parliament today (Thursday).

He, however, said that the tanks are not for personal properties, except farms.

He was responding to a question from MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, an opposition lawmaker.

Cummings said that there are numerous black plastic water tanks stored at the Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard.

He asked the minister to tell Parliament the number of tanks that are there, whom they belong to, the purpose for which they were acquired and why they have not been used.

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Francis said that there are 30 3,000-gallon, 180 1,000-gallon, 34 800-gallon, 28 650-gallon, 17 600-gallon, 41 450-gallon, 232 400-gallon, 4 200-gallon, 2 250-gallon, one 135-gallon and two damaged tanks.

There are also 70 at the port, he said.

He said that the tanks belong to the “the government of St. Vincent and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines” and are managed by and kept under the auspices of the National Emergency Management Organisation.

“Naturally these tanks came out of the disaster of La Soufriere and generous persons all over the world donated tanks to the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And in fact, in the early days, we purchased a significant number of tanks out of Trinidad.”

He said the country received many more tanks than are in storage now.

“And tanks have been distributed throughout the country for different reasons,” Francis said.

“Everybody in St. Vincent wants a tank but we can’t give everybody a tank.

“Those tanks are being kept by NEMO at the satellite warehouses as a backup for local, regional and maybe national disasters for storage of water. Emergency shelters, schools, police stations, health centres and other government buildings, some have received tanks.”

He said the government facilities that have received water tanks have a concrete elevation on which to put it.

“There’s some schools that have a cantilever not just a cantilever because a 1,000-gallon tank, you wouldn’t want to put anything smaller than that at a school is 1,000-gallon by 10 is 10,000 pounds,” he said, using his estimates of the weight of a gallon of water. 

He said that at other non-public buildings, such as churches, that are used as emergency shelters, “the elevation in certain yards of these institutions are not compatible with putting a tank full of water.

“Because if you put it flat on the ground, to access the water, you either have to dip it out, which is unsanitary, or you use a pump to pump it out because you will not get it gravity fed to your house. Because it is lower than your washbasin pipe, and your showerhead, and your kitchen.

“So there is a debate going on — not a debate, a discussion — of the cost for doing those buildings, where we ought to be putting some of these tanks to make sure that we get a pedestal to put them on.”

He said that the responsibility now falls on him and he has “asked sufficient questions about the tanks that we have, that he who speaks most, gets the most work sometimes.

“So it ended up that I have to chair a committee to make sure that we get tanks where they ought to go.”

Francis said he could not say what number of tanks would go where as this is a work in progress.

“What I do know is that they are not for personal properties, except for farmers. And for farmers, it is not for necessarily for their house, but for their farming,” he told Parliament.

He said that before “this disaster” the Minister of Agriculture distributed tanks by a different funding source.

“If you go to the farms, you see a lot of the tanks there on the ground…

“So that because of the size of the tanks and the weight of the tanks, it is a work in progress, but I give the assurance to the honourable member that this is a work in progress.

“And that I don’t want us to be encouraging individuals to come and beg for a tank because we don’t have enough tanks to give everybody even though you live in an area, because then you have to go to needs assessment tests. If there are 300 people in the village, and 10 of them come to you to give you tanks, the other 290 go want.”

Sun degrades empty water tanks

But Cummings wondered if the Francis and his team were aware that storing the empty tanks in the sun would degrade them significantly.

“If they have water in them, it’s a completely different scenario,” said Cummings, a water engineer.

“I’m very much aware of it…” Francis said. “… I understand that and there is a speed that we will pick up with that we’ll try and have them installed.

“It is the cost of the pedestals,” he said, adding that building a pedestal for a 1,000-gallon tank can cost more than the tank.

But Cummings said that the tanks do not have to be placed on pedestals, but can be placed on the ground and fitted with a small solar pump.

Water tanks for Grenadine residents?

The opposition lawmaker asked whether consideration has been given to help some residents of the Grenadines “for whom storage is so essential to augment their storage to tide them over the dry season.”

Francis, who is also minister of Grenadine Affairs, said a significant number of tanks have been sent to the Grenadine islands at the public level.

“Bequia, Union Island, Canouan on Mayreau tanks were sent there, prior to the 643 that we have left.

“And after three months ago, when we took this present count,” Francis said.

“Again, it is going to be difficult to assess in the Grenadines who is to get a tank at a personal level and who is not to get the tank at a personal level,” he said, adding that there would not be sufficient for everyone. 

“There are 5000 persons in Bequia. They might have more than 25 homes. Nobody is going to refuse a tank even though their tank is working. Once their neighbour gets one, they’re entitled to one too…

“And these pumps Solar Pumps are movable. They will be removed by somebody who the pump don’t belong to. When you put the tanks up on the pedestal, you build a platform, they can’t move it.

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6 replies on “643 water tanks at Ottley Hall ‘not for personal properties, except for farmers’”

  1. This is reason enough to get rid of Julian Francis. There is constantly water problems in SVG and the Gov’t is holding donated water tanks away from the poor oppressed population. I think they are doing this unjust action now so they can share them out when elections come to bribe people. Also who in their right mind would ever elect a joker like Frances to gov’t?

  2. Raas klaat says:

    This is just heartbreaking. How can gov’t withhold these water storage tanks from poor people without jobs who constantly have no water because of incompetent water authorities; when they were donated by foreign entities as volcano relief to the people of SVG. Then he want to stand up in parliament and want to justify gov’t actions in the face of all this. Revolution bring them to power revolution can remove them from power. Nobody is allowed to say anything that doesn’t stroke with these politicians or they will want to sue you using gov’t funds too.

  3. concerned citizen. says:

    No wonder we are wallowing in underdevelopment limbo. Gov’t saving those tanks to bribe people later round election time. Lard we cyan tek no mo.

  4. Take warning says:

    Wickedness in high places ar yo to wicked. The tanks were send for the disadvantage people during the volcano eruption , why not give the tanks to them in event of any more disaster? Or are they to be used as bribe for the next election? A day will soon come when the wicked must cease their troubling,. Its all about time.

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