I would like to publicly compliment the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) which, under its present CEO, Mr Bharat Dindyal has brought light to places in Guyana that had for so long been in darkness, and for trying to bring relief and excellent management to a most corrupt and difficult utility. He has a Herculean task.
However, GPL with all its innovativeness of pre-paid meters has adopted systems that frustrate and anger customers and result in lost man hours and as a result, money for the country as a whole.
Something is very wrong when it takes someone an entire day to conduct business at any office, but this is what happens when one goes to make enquires at GPL. Just recently, I sent my secretary to conduct business on my behalf. After waiting for some time for her to return, I called her and was told that she was letter ‘I’ number 86, and that they were now dealing with letter ‘G’ number 76. This meant that they had to get to ‘G’ 100 then begin again at ‘H’ and get through another 100 persons before they reached ‘I’. This was around 14:30hrs. She had left to conduct business at GPL Main Street at 11:00hrs. At 15:30hrs I asked her to come out of the line and return to the office.
The next morning she returned to GPL and at 07:30hrs there were already 35 persons in front of her waiting in line. How early does one have to be at GPL in the hope of getting business done so that one could go about the rest of the day as scheduled?
My frustration, however, goes beyond merely my own inconvenience. As a businessman and someone who knows how much money is drained from a business in lost man hours, I wonder at all the businesses bleeding money while their employees spend the day at GPL; and these employees have no choice, if they don’t want to be left in the darkness some unexpected night.
Apart from this, think about the thousands of people who have their lifestyles disrupted every day, who lose money because they have to stay away from work, as well as the hundreds of businesses undermanned because their employees are standing in line at GPL.
Something has to be done to get better customer service at GPL. It is easier to get into the American Embassy and obtain a visa than it is to get into GPL and be sure of service.
Recently, the line meter and connectors were erroneously removed, by an incompetent GPL officer, from a property our company manages for a client in South Road. We contacted Mr Watson, the meter manager, and after going through all the hurdles of the GPL bureaucracy, we were told that a huge mistake had been made. He also indicated his frustration with the entire process.
We took the issue to GPL Main Street and the customer service representative, without listening to the full details, said, “If you thief electricity, it got foh get disconnect.” This is what paying customers have to put up with on a daily basis. Realizing that I was not going to get a proper hearing from someone displaying that level of incompetence, I went further and spoke with Mr Johnson, who, like the professional he is, listened to my complaint and between himself and Mr Watson, the service was restored after a few days. In the meantime, my client’s tenants had to suffer because of the incompetence of one GPL field officer.
Additionally, I manage two other locations where the tenants are receiving free electricity since the pre-paid meters have malfunctioned. Reports have been made over and over to the relevant senior management personnel at GPL. Investigations were done and straight connections were made. Therefore, for quite a long period, I have been managing two properties where expatriate tenants are enjoying free electricity because someone at GPL can’t supply new replacement pre-paid meters as yet. As much as I manage these properties, and I understand GPL’s service-oriented approach to pre-paid meter
customers, I think it morally wrong for someone to be receiving a service free that everyone else is required to pay for. These are expatriate citizens, who can afford to pay for the service being provided to them, and whether it is expatriates or native citizens, people must pay for the services they receive. This is the principle by which I operate and the principle any loyal Guyanese citizen must adopt. In situations like the aforementioned, I believe that GPL in providing the satisfaction it desires to give its pre-paid customers, should charge them reasonable estimated electricity consumption charges while they sort out issues with meters which malfunction. One of these pre-paid meters, in Duncan Street, Lamaha Gardens has since been replaced.
To my mind many of the issues people go to GPL to deal with could be avoided by GPL becoming more efficient in other areas such as having meter readers who carry out their task conscientiously. In my own situation, my secretary was there to enquire into what was an obviously glaring discrepancy in the billing for electricity consumption for a property I lease. The client had moved out in February of this year after clearing all GPL expenses. No one has since inhabited the property and other than two lights left on for security purposes there is no other electricity being consumed. In March I received a bill for $48,000.00, in April a bill for $48,000.00 and in May a bill for five thousand $5,000.00. Note there had been no change in electricity consumption from March to May and no one occupying the house. This says that either this meter is malfunctioning or the previous two readings were estimates. Since this matter is yet to be resolved, I will use this forum to publicly ask GPL for an investigation of the meter at 28 Bel Air Avenue Lamaha Gardens. (meter # 40712/account # 0057683).
GPL needs to put its house in order so that the citizens of this country do not have to go through so many frustrations in order to get a meter, get a query answered or get new service. I urge GPL to bring some light into this darkness so that we could wake up from the public service nightmare that dealing with GPL has become. Notwithstanding this, however, I am sure that as the premier electricity provider in Guyana, GPL has a great future and I commend them on the steps they are taking to stop the rampant theft of electricity and the decision to take the perpetrators to court. And while they deal with these issues, they should please take note that some GPL staff are engaged in bribery.