After being without electricity for more than two months, residents of Mabaruma, Region One are frustrated that the problem has not been rectified by the relevant authorities.
According to reports reaching this newspaper, the problem is due to the malfunctioning of the generator that usually supplies power to the community. The absence of power is even more galling as Mabaruma was one of the new towns declared by the APNU+AFC government.
Normally, residents in the sub-region are supplied daily with nine hours of electricity (5:00pm to 11:00pm and 5:00am to 8:00am in the mornings).
One businessman in the community told this newspaper last evening that the present situation is “terrible.” He explained that businesses are now closing as soon as the place gets dark. “They have generators but the cost of fuel is high and generators have to be on to freeze food items etc.”
“It is not only affecting business persons but mentally persons are frustrated. Persons in charge of the electricity are not informing the residents of the latest developments. One time they say they were bringing a new generator and then another time they say a mechanic came to fix the old generator. No one knows exactly what is going on and people are frustrated,” he said.
There are also unconfirmed reports that the prices of commodities such as candles at several of the shops in the area have skyrocketed.
Regional Executive Officer Leslie Wilburg when contacted yesterday told Stabroek News that they are still trying to restore power to the community.
However, he said that the problems are larger than they anticipated. “We have to seek the intervention of the Ministry (of Communities)…Engineers have given a timeline of another three to five weeks. The residents are concerned and we are trying to explain to them that it is beyond the administration,” Wilburg stated.
Deputy Vice Chairman Sarah Brown also told this newspaper that an assessment was done on Thursday and a new engine was needed. However, she also lamented the fact that funding was needed since the cost is too high. “There are finances involved and we need to look to funding. It would be like $16 million maximum and therefore we would have to seek intervention from the Ministry.” She added that generator sets are presently at the hospital, police station and Government buildings, with the one at the hospital working overtime.
While she said that there has been no organised protest to date, Brown stated that residents have been verbally sharing the concerns about their frustration.
Last November, Finance Minister Winston Jordan during his presentation of the 2017 National Budget had said that a $246M solar farm is expected to be set up in Mabaruma this year.
The initiative, the first of its kind in Guyana, he said will be a new means of providing electricity to the residents of the Region One Township.
When operational, the Finance Minister explained that the 400 kilowatt solar farm will afford an additional 17 hours of electricity to the 3,000 residents of Mabaruma.
This is not the first time that the community has experience prolonged periods of power outages. In 2012, residents were without electricity for over a month due to the generating set suffering an overheating problem. The parts were subsequently sent to the city for repairs, but due to “space problems” on the MV Kimbia, officials were having difficulties transporting it to the area.