-urges firm action against defaulting customers
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds appointed a 10-member Board of Directors to the Mahdia Power and Light (MPL) at a meeting held on Friday in the boardroom of the Region Eight NDC.
According to a press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) several of the board members were drawn from the local mining community. David Adams was appointed Chair-man of the Board, while Head of the HEP, Horace Williams was tasked with responsibility at the Central Government level for the electricity operations in Mahdia, Lethem and Port Kaituma. The other Board members comprise Collette Adams, Punaram Chanderban, Bernice Nichols, Manuel Fraser, Louise Armstrong, Rev. Aubrey Skeete, Banaventura Fredericks, Parasram and Sewdat Singh.
After the new Board had received their appointment letters, the prime minister discussed MPL’s performance over the past year. According to Hinds, central government had injected $200M into the power company and it was subsequently required to fund its operations from revenues collected for services provided to residents.
“When we came into Government the electricity situation was at a sad state, as there was evidence of under-investment, which has seen the corporation’s state of affairs at a poor level. We have since been working to improve this and to extend electrification to areas across Guyana which hadn’t any,” he said.
Since then, government investment has seen an increase of consumers on the grid from 70,000 in 1992, to 165,000. Thousands of residents have come on the grid through the Hinterland Electrification programme (HEP), a Government of Guyana/Inter-American Development Bank programme that saw a number of photovoltaic solar home systems being installed in several Amerindian communities.
“When we look at many of the developed countries, one would say they have a much better life than ours. However, that investment came about from years of investment and collaboration from all its people…we have a country to build and collectively much can be derived if we work together,” he said. The funds to invest in MPL were sourced from general taxes… “our position is we have put it in, and it carries no charge, however, everything else will have to be paid for, so we expect that the Mahdia Power and Light (MPL) would maintain its operations and also steadily improve its situation,” he said.
Hinds also told the board that accessing technical advice is necessary for its smooth running and he urged Board members to work with the Guyana Power and Light which is also responsible for expertise sharing and training. Hundreds of workers have been trained countrywide and shortly 66 operators and linesmen will be trained at GPL’s Training School. Hinds also encouraged the Board to utilise the skills of local persons when it starts to fill posts in human resources.
Newly appointed chairman Adams, reviewing the operations of the company, pointed to several factors which have affected its performance including high cost of fuel and oil, untimely delivery of fuel and difficulty in sourcing skilled operators. “Thus far, while some losses were recorded, power generation and distribution at MPL was good thus far….however, this year, works will be intensified to rectify some of the shortcomings which have existed over the past year,” he said.
According to the report, MPL was projected to have service lines extended to Campbelltown and Seven Miles Scheme. As residents continue to respond to the service, it aims to distribute an additional 600 service meters, in addition to the 468 which had been distributed over the last seven months.
The prime minister made a call for the company to manage its affairs in a more conducive manner, and committed to sourcing another engine to complement those available. However, he encouraged the new Board to be stern with delinquent consumers who are reluctant to pay outstanding arrears.