Even as the world celebrated Water Day on March 22nd, the woes at the local Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) continued as the company issued a press release addressing the recent news of worker dismissals and fraudulent cheques that has kept the authority in the headlines.
In the press release WASA advised that its daily-rated workers held a planned and peaceful meeting with representatives of their bargaining union – National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW), at the Authority’s Head Office, St. Joseph, with permission from the water authority. WASA then refuted reports of 600 workers being dismissed (despite everybody in Trinidad claiming to know somebody who knows somebody who got fired).
WASA confirmed that 31 persons engaged specifically on short term projects, were given notices, when those projects came to an end effective January 31st, February 15th, March 21st, 2016 respectively. In addition, the Authority remains committed to open dialogue and consultation on these matters.
Regarding the other matter involving recent developments of the presentation and encashment of sixty-seven (67) fraudulent cheques valued at $416,395.50, WASA has commenced a review of the financial business processes of the organization, in an effort to ensure greater controls in its operations.
Arising from this review thus far there has been one new implemenation. With effect from 8th March, 2016 all cheques issued by the Authority will be crossed meaning that persons receiving such payments will have to deposit same into a valid bank account bearing the recipient’s name, before monies can be accessed. Also, in order to accommodate employees who normally receive their wages/salaries via cheques, the Authority invited various banking institutions to visit its regional offices in North, Central South and Tobago, during the period 16th – 18th March. During these visits, employees without bank accounts were invited to sign up to open an account, to which their wages/salaries will now be sent directly.
The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) is continuing their investigations in the matter. So far a 28 year old man from Freeport has been charged with presenting false WASA cheques to several RBC Banks. He is currently on $75,000.00 bail, after appearing in the Port of Spain First Magistrates Court on 7th March, 2016.