Bartica reeling from blackouts

-Mayor wants GPL facility away from commercial zone

One of the drains next to the GPL facility that is polluted with oil

With Bartica reeling from blackouts after the failure of two generators, the Mayor of the town wants the relocation of the GPL facility so there is no pollution in the commercial zone.

Just four months after it was declared a new town and with promises to transform it into a renewable energy centre, the Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) town is enduring lengthy blackouts.

A statement from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) on Saturday said that following two Guyana Power and Light (GPL) engine failures it would lend support. The MPI statement said that the MPI ministers had been briefed by GPL about the failures and were taking steps to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

“The failure of two of GPL’s engines in Bartica had led to an untenable situation and the ministry will assist where possible”, the MPI statement said.

The MPI statement sought the understanding and patience of residents while a major overhaul slated for completion on September 17 is underway.

In light of Bartica experiencing the blackouts, Mayor Gifford Marshall stated that the company and the council had decided to relocate the power generators due to the amount of pollution they cause to the commercial zone.

Marshall told Stabroek News yesterday that the facility was scheduled to go through maintenance about two weeks ago. However, after the two generators failed, the town has had to face scheduled blackouts.

“Right now we have one generator powering Bartica but can only supply 1.2 megawatts but the demand in Bartica is just about 2.1 megawatts,” Marshall said.

He explained that some areas would have to go without power for 12 hours and more and because of this businesses are losing money and residents are being placed in uncomfortable positions.

“We have businesses that have their frozen goods spoiling losing money and nights when children have to do their homework they can’t because they don’t have electricity,” Marshall pointed out.

However, while the town has had to endure the situation for more than two weeks, Marshall said that the company had related to him that they would’ve transferred a generator from Berbice to assist the town. “If I am correct it should’ve arrived today [yesterday] so we should be seeing some sort of relief soon,” he said.

Currently,  the GPL facility is located on First Avenue, next to the market, which is in the centre of the Central Business District (CBD) and Marshall explained that after he had visited the facility he had discovered that there was severe pollution.

“We went on Wednesday and checked the surroundings and the conditions under which they operate and we observed heavy pollution. The drains were heavily clogged with waste oil and all the soot from the engines would pollute the entire market and the commercial zones,” Marshall pointed out, stating that based on their Land Use and Development Plan they want to relocate the facility to a more industrial area.

He said that the council is working along with the company to ensure that the generators are transferred from the commercial zone to a different location so it would have less of an impact on the every-day lives of the citizens. He pointed out that while they have three viable locations identified, the company is mostly interested in an area in Agatash.

“It’s about 10 acres and while a decision is still to be made on the future of that, what we will do at the council level is to fast forward because we don’t want it to be a drawn-out process,” Marshall said.

Marshall pointed out that the ultimate goal is to have clean and cheap energy such as solar, biomass and hydro energy but there is a need to significantly reduce the noise, water and air pollution that is  currently plaguing the town.

He said that the town is expecting a visit from Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson sometime during the week.


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