Over the past four to five years my family has had the responsibility of caretaker of a house at Lot 42 Ferry Street, New Amsterdam which belongs to my in-laws (my wife’s parents and siblings) who have migrated to the United States. No one lives in the upper flat of the two-flat building where my in-laws lived. The bottom flat was recently rented to a family. During the month of April 2008, a disconnection crew attached to the Guyana Power and Light Inc visited and entered the premises while no one was in the upper flat. The crew proceeded to disconnect the power to the upper flat (the bottom flat has a separate meter) even though the bill for the period in question had already been paid. The crew apparently not satisfied with this irregularity then opened the meter. A young man who was asleep in the bottom flat awoke in time to see the crew opening the meter. Editor, I can only assume that the reason for this intrusion could have been the small amount of electricity that was being billed to the upper flat. Yet the simple explanation was that no one has been occupying the flat and only one security bulb is turned on from a switch outside the building by the tenants downstairs at nights and turned off in the mornings. My in-laws (mother-in-law and father-in-law) last visited Guyana and spent a few weeks back in 2007 in the building. I subsequently learnt that the disconnection crew had come from Georgetown but was accompanied by a local employee who has since been dismissed from the corporation.
On visiting the local office a family member was told that no instructions had come from the local office for the building to be disconnecetd and promptly instructed a local team to re-connect the building with no re-connection cost since the bill had been paid on time. Nothing was mentioned at that time by the corporation about any suspected malpractice or tampering with its equipment. To our shock and dismay employees of the corporation again visited the premises on February 11, 2009, disconnected the power supply even though the bill was paid on February 7 before the due date February 13. The team then proceeded to open the meter. After they had done so they told an elderly occupant of the bottom flat that the meter had been tampered with and told her to sign a piece of paper without telling her what she was signing. The crew then left a piece of document stating that the meter had been tampered with and the owner[s] should visit the Commercial Office to discuss the matter while stating that the fine for such an offence was $50,000. When I visited the Commerical Office in New Amsterdam two weeks ago a Mr Jaiman Deokinandan, Field Services Co-ordinator, told me he had to investigate the matter and would call me in another week. It is now the third week since the incident occurred. When I called him yesterday (Wednesday) he told me if I wanted the supply restored I would have to pay the fine and the investigations would continue. He has promised to call me again next week. Meanwhile the building remains in darkness. This is the second time within recent memory that GPL employees have targeted this building. A few years ago power was disconnected and a crew demanded money from a family member to reconnect the supply. He refused and power was not restored until four weeks later after a letter was published in this newspaper. I have heard reports, Editor of an orchestrated scheme of skullduggery involving employees of the corporation in Region Six. Teams allegedly visit premises while no one is at home, tamper with the meter and then return when persons are at home. They would then open the meter, claim that it has been tampered with by the occupants and threaten legal action if the fine is not paid. The customer is then forced to offer a bribe to the crew to avoid the heavy fine or prosecution. It is my understanding that some employees have in fact been dismissed in the region recently for malpractices following investigations by officers from Georgetown. My family is prepared, Editor, to produce my eyewitness but not to any official in New Amsterdam since I am not convinced that they would deal with this matter impartially. However my family is not prepared to be victims of a dishonest and wicked attempt by the corporation’s employees to embarrass and fleece money from us.
Daniel Da Costa
We are sending a copy of this letter to the PRO of GPL, Mr Richard Francois, for any comments he might wish to make.