I pen this letter in utter frustration at the seeming incapability of the Lethem Power Company (LPC) to provide a reliable electricity supply to Lethem and its environs (Lethem is presently in complete blackout for the last 17hrs).
Since just before Christmas the electricity supply has been a veritable ‘fairy lights’ service with not a single day going by when there hasn’t been a power outage. This has created a life of inconvenience, despair and frustration to the residents of Lethem, especially those who utilise the electricity supply to provide a form of livelihood such as businessmen and office workers.
Lethem has two diesel-powered generators. Both of these generators have been plagued with problems as time and again within the last few years, Lethem has experienced extended periods of power shortages and unreliable supply. This most recent episode commenced from around December 23. It was said that the larger, and usually more efficient of the two generators, encountered some major mechanical problem and had to be removed from service. This meant that the smaller engine, with a long history of unpredictability, had to be forced into operation.
One had hoped that use of this smaller engine would have been a temporary solution − say for a few days or a week at maximum, until the larger generator’s problem was rectified.
Alas, it is now almost three weeks since the bigger generator stopped working and the problem is yet to be resolved. During this time the smaller generator has been its usual unreliable self, meaning that blackouts are an inevitable daily occurrence.
One therefore asks the question why is it taking so long for a normal supply of electricity to be restored to Lethem? Is it because of the difficulty in obtaining the parts for the generator? Or is it because of the inability of the management of the LPC to undertake a timely repair of the generator?
And, also, why does the smaller generator continue to give so many problems when it is put into operation? Is it because it was also not properly serviced/repaired while it was lying idle?
Lethem lies on the threshold of a major development, with the opening of the Takutu Bridge. When this happens, can we afford to continue having an unreliable electricity supply? Suppose containers of frozen products happen to be in Lethem when the generators decide to stop working? Can you imagine the amount of money that will be lost as a result of the spoilage?
The electricity supply in Lethem needs urgent revamping to ensure that it is prepared for the expected increase in demand for reliable electricity when the bridge opens and business commences full speed. Either our government invests in newer, more modern and efficient diesel generators or we hook up to the hydroelectricity from the Guri Dam in Venezuela via the Roraima network, which happens already to be connected to the lights atop of the Takutu Bridge (so while Lethem suffers from frequent blackouts and the automatic cutting of lights at 1 am, the Takutu bridge is lit all night long).
Our electricity is but one of a long list of infrastructural undertakings in and around Lethem that need urgent attention to upgrade its standard to ensure that it copes with the demand when the bridge opens.
One only hopes that someone in authority in government realises the urgent need to deal with our electricity woes and start putting things in place for a more improved and efficient service.
In the meantime, the residents of Lethem can only sit about and mope about two malfunctioning generators that are making our lives a misery while a better, more efficient and reliable alternative lies right on our doorstep at the Takutu Bridge.
Why does our government continue to ignore a possible connection to hydroelectricity via Bom Fin (even though an offer was made from Brazil) continues to mystify the residents of Lethem.
One only hopes that this continuing unreliable electricity situation forces their hand to make a decision on connecting to Bom Fin as this seems the most plausible alternative to residents of Lethem at least.
(Name and address