Water and Sewerage Corporation Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson has embarked on an underhanded and ill-conceived plot to force out all of WSC’s major Reverse Osmosis (RO) operators and suppliers, a move that will cost Bahamian taxpayers dearly and has already angered the US government.
Water and Sewerage has intentionally defaulted on payments to suppliers, including Suez, Consolidated, and Staniel Cay Yacht Club, in an effort to force them out so that WSC can take over those facilities and use one sole supplier, Forever Pure, which was paid $1.3 million in a series of “smaller” payments to avoid raising red flags.
According to WSC invoices signed by Gibson, the WSC General Manager and the DGM of Finance, one payment for the “replacement of RO plants for Suez Facilities” was for $245,000, another was for $133,000, the third payment was for an additional $245,000 and another payment was made in the amount of $370,000.
Gibson recently accused Central Eleuthera’s water supplier of being inhumane and disconnecting residents’ water supply for days but he conveniently left out that he had been withholding payments to Suez to frustrate them. The Eleuthera debacle is just the tip of the iceberg as Gibson moves to muscle out RO suppliers.
Under Adrian Gibson, WSC attempted to illegally take over and acquire the assets of a United States-registered company, forcing the US government to get involved.
Gibson forcibly removed the supplier’s staff from the plant with the help of Police Force and Defence Force officers
He also ordered Harry B Sands law firm to write a letter to water supplier Aqua Design Limited terminating an agreement for Waterford Eleuthera. WSC then tried to take over the plant to put in place it’s own personnel to operate the facility.
“The Corporation hereby terminates the Sub-Agreement for Waterford Eleuthera with immediate effect and invokes the protocol for termination under clause 27.5 of the Master Agreement,” attorney Camille Cleare wrote.
“The Corporation hereby exercises its right to operate the plant with its own personnel and, with immediate effect, will continue to operate the Waterford Eleuthera Plant for a period not exceeding eighteen months,” according to Cleare, who cc’ed Gibson on the letter.
US officials went over Gibson’s head to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and demanded that WSC return operations to the lawful owner.
A similar attempt was also made by the WSC chairman to take over the RO plant on Inagua because the owner refused to sell the facility to the government at a discounted rate.
The childish chairman has also been purchasing Reverse Osmosis plants and equipment and cancelling several outsourced services that were implemented to improve service and efficiency.
The misguided Mr. Gibson has also reportedly tried to form a Reverse Osmosis Department in Water and Sewerage to takeover the current facilities providing water to the family islands.
He tried to blame the last Christie Administration. However, WSC began outsourcing certain services in 1997 under the Ingraham-led FNM government due to the inefficiencies, bureaucracy, and inability to properly maintain such facilities.
Experts say a WSC takeover of RO facilities would save a few dollars initially but it will cost the cash-strapped corporation even more money in the long run if one of the plants experiences equipment failure and WSC is required to reinvest in the assets.
Water and Sewerage had also planned to introduce RE at the Suez-owned plants, starting with North Eleuthera, which would have resulted in reduced energy costs and lower water bill for consumers but Gibson put a stop to the project.
Insiders say Gibson’s actions are taking WSC backwards and Bahamian taxpayers will be the ones paying for these mistakes long after Gibson is kicked out of his seat.