WASA hires 44 engineering trainees
Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said the 44 graduate trainees of the Engineering Leadership Development Program are expected to contribute to the development of the water and sanitation sector in TT.
Speaking at the induction function for the trainees at the ministry’s head office, One Alexandra Place, St Clair, on Wednesday, he said the program is being implemented by the Water and Sewerage Authority of TT (WASA) in partnership with the Ministry of Public Utilities (MPU), with the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank, which recently approved the first tranche of a US$315 million conditional credit line for the National Water Sector Transformation Programme.
Gonzales said the trainees were chosen out of 425 applicants for the program, and come from a broad field of engineering disciplines including civil, chemical and process, electrical and computer science, geomatics, and petroleum geoscience.
“What we have here is a group of young talented individuals who specialize in engineering disciplines that are relevant to the forward movement of the water and sanitation sector and the many projects and interventions that we have planned and are already implementing for the purpose of securing a sustainable water future for us all and for future generations.”
He said one challenge the utility faces is institutional weakness at the managerial and technical levels. He said there is a need for professionals and leaders with the skillset that would facilitate out-of-the-box thinking, enabling them to provide effective solutions to complex and multi-faceted problems, and manage change by working deliberately across the boundaries of functional or organizational units as opposed to working in silos.
“While there are a number of highly trained and competent engineers in the Authority, there are also several persons designated as engineers who are not trained engineers and who lack the capacity to undertake highly technical work and come up with solutions to the myriad of problems on the network which negatively impacted the supply of water to the population.
“I am reliably informed that currently within the Authority, there are approximately 68 persons or employees occupying engineering positions and who lack the skills, training and certification as engineers from a recognized university. This is an undesirable state of affairs because often times some of those people are called upon to address complex problems on the network and cannot do so because they lack the training and competence.As such, there is a need for highly skilled professionals in the water sector across the board, with an urgent demand for, among others , hydrologists, engineers (process, mechanical, civil and hydrological), and project managers.”
Gonzales said the trainees will be exposed to all aspects of the authority’s operations, giving them the opportunity to learn from first-hand experience.
He said they will be involved in game-changing projects being carried out by the authority including a leak repair program, the Community Water Improvement Program (CWIP), a pilot project in the north west region for non-revenue water, where they will work with and learn from an international consultant; a water audit consultancy undertaken under an IDB technical co-operation grant; and training from the NIB.
They will also be assisting in the planning and implementation of the first ever Caribbean Water Loss Conference to be hosted in Port of Spain in March.
Gonzales said under the first tranche of the loan, a specialized international consulting firm will be procured under a co-management performance-based contract to allow for the seamless transfer of knowledge and expertise to WASA.
IDB chief operating officer Sergio Rios said the bank continues to support the strategic development of the board of WASA, including the technical capacity of people for training and development.
“One of the main aims of the new loan which the bank has signed with WASA is to boost the efficiency and sustainability of TT’s drinking water supply and water security. Having people trained to execute the work will be necessary for us to move one step closer to our goal.”
WASA board of commissioners chairman Ravindra Nanga encouraged the graduates to be part of the solution at WASA.
“What I see here today is the future of WASA because you are coming in full of potential and we have the utmost faith that you will do the right thing. You are going to face temptations, you are going to be encouraged to go down the wrong way. We have discovered a lot in WASA. We have a fairly new executive that has been purposefully chosen because they intend to work. We are going to bring WASA into the next century and we encourage you to be part of that.”