Bartica’s power woes are yet to be resolved and electricity outages continue even as several outraged residents took to the streets in protest yesterday.
“Bartica has been without electricity for the last 48 hours and residents have been complaining bitterly about the effects the (prolonged) power shortage have had on their lives. Businesses have been losing by the hour as many of their perishable items have damaged costing them millions in losses,” a statement from the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) said. Expressing concern about the constant blackouts that have plagued Bartica, the GWMO called on the Guyana Power & Light (GPL) Inc to immediately rectify the situation and alleviate the suffering of residents.
In a statement, GPL said that efforts to make the full capacity of the No. 9 caterpillar set at Bartica available for distribution did not materialize as envisioned. “Tripping of the main switch at less than maximum rated load was experienced even after a replacement switch was installed earlier (yesterday). Further investigation to determine the cause of the trips is required, but cannot be pursued until the No. 8 comes online,” the utility said in a statement.
It added that the services of the local Caterpillar representative, MACORP, has been retained in an effort to identify and correct defects on the No. 8 as quickly as possible. “Establishment of a reliable supply from this unit will allow for taking the No. 9 offline to address the problem causing restriction to its available output,” GPL said.
It added that given the fact that they cannot use the No. 9 engine to the maximum, GPL is forced to institute load-shedding during both day and night. A comprehensive load shedding guide, designed to minimize inconvenience to residents in all areas, will be issued today, GPL said.
The utility appealed for patience and understanding from Barticians and said that every effort is being made to restore a reliable uninterrupted power supply. For further information, customers were advised to contact the Public Relations Office on 225-1471 or 226-1323.
Meantime, several residents staged a protest in the township yesterday and the GWMO said that the “outrageous” situation has dogged development and living standards in the mining-dependent community for years. “Because many of our members live and work in the community the impact of the power shortage is personal and as an organisation we have been working behind the scene in an attempt to improve this situation but our attempts has been without success,” the GWMO asserted.
“It should be noted that prior to the current power outage there was another that lasted for some 72 hours which caused untold suffering to the residents who were not compensated in any form by the authorities. For years GPL has been providing what we would term ‘fairy light’ electricity to the community which has not only destroyed items stored in refrigerators and freezers but has also damaged appliances. Our own investigation has revealed that many of the engines sent to the community to assist in powering the electricity are old and rundown equipment, which would have already been used in Georgetown and contributes to the poor electricity supply,” the group declared.
The statement said that the information was provided by persons who work at the GPL office in Bartica. Calling the situation appalling, the women’s group called on the relevant authorities to address the issue urgently.
The GWMO also hit out at Regional Chairman Gordon Bradford saying that they strongly feel that he is not properly representing the community on the issue. “As a matter of fact, we would be bold to state that from all appearances and from our observation Mr Bradford represents the interest of GPL and not the township on this issue. The Interim Management Community (IMC) which would have replaced the democratically elected Nighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) also appears strangely to be sleeping on the issue,” the group asserted.
The GWMO said that apart from the unreliable electricity supply, it is unexplainable that so many years after Bartica became a thriving community which makes a significant contribution to Guyana’s economy, it cannot benefit from potable water. “Residents are forced to fetch water for long distances and in some cases have to purchase water. The question should be asked as to why GPL and the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) are neglecting the people of Bartica,” the group asserted.
The statement said that additionally, residents’ woes are further compounded by poor drainage, dilapidated roads and a garbage situation that is nearing crisis level. The GWMO urged the IMC and the RDC to play a much bigger role in ensuring that they represent the interest of the community.