Following protest action by residents of Lethem, power was yesterday afternoon restored to the community but some businesses were disconnected from the electricity grid.
Regional Chairman, Clarendo Lucas told Stabroek News yesterday afternoon that power was restored to the area after the Lethem Power Company (LPC) managed to source fuel from a gas station in the area. He noted however, that the supply may only be able to last until midday today and reports are that the community and surrounding areas may see more dark days ahead, since the arrival of fuel tankers which were expected in Lethem this week continued to be hampered by the state of the Linden/Lethem trail.
Yesterday, Lethem businesswoman Linda Khan led a picketing exercise outside the company’s offices at Barrack Retreat Road in Central Lethem. Dozens of persons joined members of the business community as they protested at the LPC offices yesterday morning around 11.
Khan noted that several issues at Lethem need to be highlighted, including the need for new management of the LPC, an audit of the company as well as more proactive planning from the authorities in the region.
Khan, who said if the situation did not improve today she would be leading another protest, told Stabroek News that soon after power was restored to the area, a transformer which connects her business place, the Savannah Inn, to the electricity grid, was disconnected. She noted that the move by the LPC was “short-sighted.”
An upset Khan noted that her business place is one of the bigger customers of the LPC and she questioned the move by the company. She said that the move was one of several mistakes the company has made in recent months, while adding that in the lead up to the current rainy season in the Rupununi, the LPC should have stockpiled its fuel in preparation for “like what going on now.”
Efforts by this newspaper to reach officials at the LPC yesterday were futile, however Khan noted, “they are not even answering the phones when you call…you have to guess what they will be doing next.”
Past President of the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Alfred Ramsarran told this newspaper yesterday that the business community remained concerned at the situation and he noted that a number of businesses were affected by a lack of power supply. Facilities at the Lethem Hospital and other government buildings were also without power for most of the past two days.
Residents noted yesterday that a number of commodities had become scarce in recent weeks at Lethem amid growing concerns by some businesses that their produce would spoil.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Ireng/Sawariwau Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) at Lethem, Terrence Boston told Stabroek News yesterday that the situation did not bode well for the progress of the community as a business hub in that section of Guyana.
He said that after the floods, which enveloped the community and other areas in Region 9 several weeks ago, the authorities had been rationing the available fuel at the LPC and he noted that there was hope that the situation would have improved over time.
He said that “one would have thought even before then that they would have used the dry weather to ferry fuel into the region but this obviously did not occur.” Boston noted too that since last week, power supply to the community had been cut down to less than 12 hours and on Tuesday evening the power went off. He said that since then Lethem was left in the dark each night until yesterday.
Since Lethem is a small community, Boston felt that the residents should have been informed by the LPC of progress made in the ongoing situation and when it was likely to end.
This newspaper understands that fuel tankers are stuck along sections of the road and residents noted yesterday that it remains unclear where those tankers are exactly. “One time you hearing fuel reaching today then you hearing another thing the next day,” a resident noted.