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Contractor fired for disobeying Hazel’s orders to conserve water

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad--A private contractor attached to the Prime Minister's residence Wednesday paid the ultimate price, and was fired, for disobeying orders given by Prime Minister Patrick Manning's wife, Local Government Minister Hazel Manning.

The investigation, which was conducted by executive house manager Armando D'Souza, revealed that orders given by Mrs Manning to conserve water were disobeyed.

The move comes one day after the Express exclusively reported that sprinklers were being used to water the lawn at the Prime Minister's residence at a time when many parts of the country have been severely affected by the unusually dry rainy season and the extraordinarily low water level in reservoirs.

In fact, at a People's National Movement meeting at the Witco Desperadoes panyard in Laventille last Monday, Manning admitted Government did not know how long 'this drought will last', and begged people to conserve more.

"We don't know if the rains will come in May or June or July or August, as happened in 1973. We don't know when they will come," he said.

Manning said while WASA appealed to the national community to conserve water, the Government was begging citizens to do this in the interest of everyone.

"Not because you have the means, you must waste it. We are trying to schedule (the water supply). If some have, some don't have, we are trying to schedule that," he added.

Prior to the Prime Minister's announcement in Parliament, however, D'Souza told the Express that heads would roll for disobeying the orders given to them by the Prime Minister's wife.

"Instructions were given to the executive house manager, Mr Armando D'Souza, by Mrs Hazel Manning, that the use of the sprinkler system was to be discontinued following the water restrictions implemented by the Water and Sewerage Authority from midnight on February 3," it read.

On February 3, WASA commenced an all-out water conservation programme and directed WASA's water police to stop and charge citizens for the improper use of water and watering equipment.

As a result, immediately following the reports made by the Express to WASA that a sprinkler system was being used at Manning's residence, authorities clamped down on the groundskeepers and directed staff to immediately stop using the sprinklers or similar devices, via a phone call.

Up to late yesterday, however, no one had been charged or fined for misusing the precious resource.

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