Thursday 22 August, 2019

WASA police acted legally in seizing farmers' pumps

WASA police acted within their right when they confiscated four pumps from farmers in Aranguez last weekend.

Responding to an urgent question in the Senate on Wednesday, Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte defended the actions of the WASA police in the confiscation of the farmers' pumps, stating that the officials determined that the farmers were engaged in the illegal abstraction of water. 

Le Hunte noted that WASA police have been increasing their vigilance in communities to ensure that restrictions on a hose ban implemented in January are adhered to and illegal abstraction of water is minimised. 

The Minister said the pumps were seized as evidence as part of "routine police practice".

In light of this, Le Hunte said he could not instruct the WASA police to return the confiscated pumps.

"We live in a society governed by law. It is outside the purview of any minister to instruct or direct police officials. This is not the practice of Ministers under this Government and it is not one I intend to start. 

My policy position to WASA is to increase the level of vigilance in light of the prevailing dry season, and which is in my purview." 

Le Hunte assured that the officers are trained to do their jobs "without fear or favour, malice or ill will".

Asked whether the officers erred in this instance, the Minister said that was not a matter for him to determine. 

However, he said that based on the evidence provided and what he had seen in the incident report from the officers, they excuted their responsibilities in keeping with their mandate, especially given the current water crisis facing the country.

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