St. John’s Antigua- The findings of the probe into illegal utilities connections at Yorks Extension and subsequent action should not take an inordinately long time, Chairman of the Development Control Authority (DCA) Leon Chaku Symister said.
The matter of the squatters and the adverse effect they are having on the community came to the fore once more on Thursday, when the MP for the area, John Maginley, was a guest on Voice of the People.
Residents expressed frustration, and Maginley, in turn, rapped officials at Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) for inaction against the squatters.
Yesterday, APUA General Manager Esworth Martin told OBSERVER his agency would have to properly investigate if the so-called squatters held leases for the lands they occupy or had DCA permission to build.
Martin said the results of the probe at Yorks and Pigotts, another trouble spot, would be tabled at the next DCA meeting, which is next Thursday.
Symister said yesterday that while he accepts that APUA cannot disconnect customers without first investigating, it’s a simple matter of checking the records.
“That investigation should not take any time. APUA should not give electricity or water to an applicant unless the application has a DCA-approved stamped, so it would be for APUA merely to review the applications of the customer to see if the stamp is there,” Symister said.
He also said that in addition to discontinuing service to those who should not receive it, APUA would have to probe its own.
“They have a duty to go further. If people were given service and the proper requirements were not met, then they have to decide who authorised those services and what they are going to do with those persons,” Symister said.
He noted that the situation between the agencies is collaborative rather than antagonistic, as APUA is represented on DCA.
On Thursday, Maginley accused APUA of foot dragging, saying he seen correspondence to indicate that people were squatting on government land, still APUA “refuses to take action.”