Julius Espat is also the PUP’s Area Representative for Cayo South which includes Valley of Peace Village. According to Espat, the villagers are not happy that Minister Hugo Patt wants to replace the members of the village’s water board. He says that the current water board has done well and has saved about one hundred thousand dollars in its bank account.
Julius Espat, Cayo South Area Representative:“So the Minister sent a letter stating that he has changed the water board members, and you have to understand that under the law the Minister does have the authority but he has to consult with the area rep and the chairman of the village, that was not done. The village had a meeting a representative from the Ministry came and he wanted to swear in the new board and we asked him to read the law. He read the law but he left out the part of consultation so I insisted the he read the law in its entirety. When he did that he then realized that it was a tricky situation. Anyhow we convinced him that it was illegal to do that appointment at the time, he agreed and we recommended that the present board remain as the interim board until the Minister consulted with us. I had already sent a letter to the Minister requesting a meeting, I got a response last week, I responded to them that I will be meeting with the Minister tomorrow at 10am in his office hopefully to settle the situation. We are not saying that the Minister does not have the power to do what he is doing we are just passing on the message from the villagers that they are happy with the present board, the present board has shown that they are responsible, the present board has showed that everybody is happy with it and I will be sitting with the Minister to see if he would agree with us. At the end of the day if after the Minister sits with me and sits with the chairman and he still insists that he wants to do what he wants to do under the law we cannot change it but I don’t think the villagers will standby and accept it so easily because it’s been a long while and you can have the history of wateboard throughout the country. You have to understand the whole concept of waterboards and village council is that they have to work in harmony and have to have a synergy for it to be able to function properly and that’s all we’re asking- we are not dealing with personalities, we are dealing with something that we want it to work and it’s presently working extremely well so that’s the message I will forward to the Minister tomorrow and hopefully we come to an agreement.”
We will keep following this story.