Lethem without power after fuel shortage

At 11pm yesterday, the border community of Lethem had been without power for over 24 hours, after the power company ran out of fuel.

Reports are that the community had been experiencing periods of load shedding over the past week, as the company sought to conserve on its fuel stock. By Tuesday evening, however, it was reportedly out of fuel while the generating sets at its base were only running on the fuel remaining in their tanks.

Attempts to reach Regional Executive Officer Ronald Harsawack as well as officials of the power company for comment yesterday were futile.

According to reports out of the area, the company was counting on the arrival of a fuel tanker, which departed the Coastland on Tuesday evening for Lethem, but the state of the trail has affected its progress.

Reports from minibus operators were that the tanker had been held up along the trail, including at a bridge which is under construction close to the Surama junction and at the difficult Hunt Oil Stretch.

A motorist noted last evening that the stretch of road was deteriorating rapidly over the past two to three weeks, with rainfall and the frequent traffic of the model M ‘bush trucks’ exacerbating the situation. According to reports, the gas stations at Lethem were also low on fuel and at least one, Macedo’s Service Station, had run out of fuel early this week.

There were suggestions, a resident noted last evening, that the GDF SkyVan ferry fuel between Annai and Lethem, since the fuel trucks were able to reach the former location. However, the aircraft is said to be grounded as it is undergoing repairs.

A resident told this newspaper last evening that the power company had been advised that fuel should have been conserved during the recent flooding in Region 9, given the state of the road at this time of the year. He said that it is widely known that the July rainy season would see the road being in a terrible state. “So, I can’t understand the stupidity in awarding contracts for works during the rainy season,” the resident added.

Harsawack had told this newspaper earlier this week that works were ongoing on sections of the trail, with efforts being made to undertake emergency works at key sections. He said too that construction company BK international had been mobilising equipment to carry out long term works to the trail.

The poor state of the trail has been continually highlighted by residents, who have been calling on the authorities to upgrade it to an all-weather road.

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