By Makeda Mikael
For many years I have wanted to go public with my love and gratitude to APUA but scared to say it because APUA is a most controversial subject. Each morning as I wash my face and cup the water in my hands to my mouth I think how much we all trust our Water Department without even thinking.
I know some persons are thinking about the rusty pipe water in the old areas of mostly St.John’s where pipe replacement is a consideration, but the majority of the island gets good balanced water and we do not say thanks, we remember the old pipes.
Electricity and telephone service may not be as good as we expect at times, but when we consider the ancient systems which the colonial masters left in place as they departed with the moneybags, we are indeed industrious to have maintained them usable to date.
APUA has managed to operate and increase service to the sophisticated expectations demanded by Tourism, a dependent industry where visitors presume that the basics of Electricity, Water, Telephone and Internet as as good as global services.
The risk which those men and a few brave women of APUA endure in the horrors of electricity gone wrong is a constant, in order for all of us to be able to switch on and off without thinking. The serious accidents which they avoid in post hurricane and disaster is overlooked as we irritably drop our words on them about the length of time it takes to get reconnected. How many of us even look up as a young man hangs precariously on the top of a lamppost with hundreds of volts of electricity just beyond his fingers? It is is human to whisper a prayer for his safety as we pass.
We need to lay the blame for any failures of the APUA where it truly lies. The foundation of utility operations in Antigua were laid out very simply as it was the colonies and they were phasing out sugar and leaving, so the Brits did not leave anything in place which has any futuristic importance.
Everything was of the old order. It therefore is a compliment to the hard work of hundreds of Antiguan men under the order of V.C. Bird to extend electricity and water to villages and the two main poor and black areas in St. John’s. Under a politically independent government, the Authority was established with a mission which allowed it to operate under statutory law which has led to its growth.
The management of APUA has been silently offering a very high level of industry to Antigua & Barbuda when we consider the size of the Authority, the numbers they employ, and their competence as we race towards a digitized economy. APUA is using its own entity as a model for digitization and its Customer Service is clearly the best currently offered by any government office.
Yet, APUA is one of the more reviled statutory operations on the island, yet it is one of the strongest male organizations skilled in the dangerous business of electricity and water, daily working in keeping this island a float in good and bad times, while people speak badly about them most of the times. But then Antigua is not known to see its everyday heroes, rather importing them from anywhere in the Caribbean or the world, but if we are serious about those who are there for us in disaster, we would all love APUA!