First published January 11, 1989

Assembly Debates Weekend Chaos

Opposition Calls For Govt Resignation

By SHARIEF KHAN and BERT WILKINSON

THE agony and frustration thous­ands in the city and its environs faced last Sunday were transported into Parliament yester­day with the opposi­tion demanding gov­ernment resign for incompetence.

Speaker Sase Narain agreed and the government con­curred in a debate on the acute Sunday water crisis as a matter of national public importance and as the debate proceeded in the chambers, the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) staged a picket demonstra­tion against the con­tinuing electricity blackouts and other crises outside.

Deputy Prime Minis­ter, Public Utilities, Mr. Robert Corbin, in a statement, blamed the collapse of about nine electricity utility poles Saturday afternoon on “unusually high winds”.

The poles downed along Dennis Street in the Campbellville dis­trict carried the main link between the King­ston power station and the Sophia converter station.

This collapse, Corbin said, affected the link between the national grid and the 50-cycles areas in Georgetown, which account for about 75 per cent of the capital’s electricity consumers.

Corbin confirmed that the .5 MW stand-by generator at the Shel­ter belt has been out of order since last Oct­ober and said that with the knocking out of the Sophia link, the capital’s source of pot­able water was shut down.

PPP front-bencher, Mr. Reepu Daman Persaud, who successfully moved that the matter be debated, said that the thousands sent scurrying around for any available water Sunday ‘was unprece­dented chaos’ and ‘a national scandal.’

He demanded the re­signation of the state-run Guyana Water Au­thority (Guywa) and the government over the fiasco.

“Parliament cannot re­main insensitive and government cannot re­main indifferent to the sufferings of the peo­ple,” Persaud charged and declared, “this gov­ernment has reached its end. It has no an­swers and solutions to the problems of the country. It should re­sign and let’s have a new government which can restore conditions under which people can live.”

Mr. Eusi Kwayana, of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) de­scribed Sunday’s events as ‘just a warning sig­nal. We do not know how many more would have to be given before the government wakes up.’

He suggested that the minister responsible for ‘these collapses’ should be dismissed or pun­ished or should resign.

Corbin however, at­tributed the collapse of the Sophia-Kingston converter link to “an act of God” and said government       was ‘wor-king around the clock’ to ensure a sim­ilar situation did not recur.

This situation, he con­tended, ‘was not anti­cipated,’ and to loud table-thumping from the government side, said his was a gov­ernment that was ‘concerned’ and that identified with the people when pro­blems arose.

Corbin also announc­ed that the rehabili­tation of the Kingston power station was now on an “emergency’ footing and said dis­cussions were continu­ing with the manufac­turers of equipment for the station.

He said he would be issuing details of these plans within ‘a few weeks.’

Active steps, he said, had been taken since October to repair the Shelter Belt stand-by generator and this he said was the key to avoiding a repetition of last Sunday’s water crisis.

Government was treat­ing the restoration of the downed Sophia-Kingston link as ‘a na­tional priority, ’ he said.

After weeks of black­outs, floods, transpor­tation difficulties and flour shortages, Guy­anese woke up on Sun­day to find taps dry.

Uncertain when the Shelter Belt and other city wells would receive power, citizens took to the roads in thousands, stormed fire tenders, broke water mains, commandeered any­thing on wheels and walked long distances in search of water for domestic purposes mainly.

Police confirmed yesterday that an uniden­tified male was drown­ed aback of the Bo­tanic Gardens on Sun­day, apparently either while swimming or dur­ing the search for water. Many were dip­ping their buckets in the Lamaha Canal and some were bathing.

Up to late yesterday Shelter Belt workers were mending or re­placing dozens of water mains damaged in the City, the East Bank, East Coast and other districts, whose water supply systems were rendered useless by the GEC shutdown.

‘I don’t blame people for breaking water mains. When it became apparent that the crisis had reached such pro­portions, authorities should have called out the Joint Services to supervise people getting water from wherever it was coming.

“Instead of breaking mains, the military could have unscrewed them for residents,’ Mr. Gordon Todd, President of the Cleri­cal and Commercial Workers’ Union told Stabroek News yester­day.

Todd called for a joint private sector ini­tiative with government which could result in a short-term solution in the interim and later a more permanent answer to the country’s power problems.

‘I know no country where business entre­preneurs are attracted if certain basic services are not in place, elec­tricity, telephone and water. They may put up with bad roads,’ Todd noted.

Latest reports indicate that the GEC had re­powered a second Kingston generator and the situation had im­proved.

A 10-megawatt barge is due from the US by next month-end. It is hoped that this will cut down on lengthy outages, but at the moment the solution is the construction of new stations, Mr. Cor­bin told reporters re­cently.

Lloyd is Michael’s look-a-like

THE presentation of the Michael Jackson Dress and Look-Alike contest was held last Wednesday at the office of In­dia Overseas Inter­national (Guyana) Limited — Liberty cinema. The win­ners were Lloyd Bacchus, Kenrick Cheeks and Parag Mamnani.

Bacchus who was the ‘Michael Jackson’ of the show, received a trophy donated by the Guyana Cultural Pro­motions Group. Along with this there were monetary and other prizes for the winner which included Michael Jackson’s last album ‘Bad’.

Cheeks and Mamnani who were the second and third-placed win­ners also received prizes, Mamnani was however given an add­ed incentive for the Dress-Alike part of the show.

The contest, organised by Laxhmie Kallicharran, was held at the Savannah Suite, Pegasus Hotel on December 18 and nine contestants were required to per­form the ‘Bad’ song se­quence. The show was a precursor to Jackson’s movie ‘Moonwalker’ which premiered at the Liberty cinema after the contest.

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