Efforts are underway to procure new equipment for Radio Mabaruma after a recent electrical surge damaged some equipment.
This is according to Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley, who, in a telephone interview with Stabroek News, explained that he was informed of damage done to a dish at the radio station just a few days ago during a meeting.
While he could not give specific details of the extent of the damage, Ashley said there had been an incident where there was fluctuation in the supply of electricity to the station, which resulted in damage to some of the equipment.
Ashley further noted that though there were discussions with the relevant authorities in Georgetown to establish a stable supply of electricity to the station, it was the electricity supply from the Mabaruma Health Department generator set that allowed the station to function. This generator is one that also supplies electricity to the administrative buildings in the community.
Notwithstanding, efforts are being made to replace the damaged equipment and have the issue rectified so as to allow the station to be up and running and again. However, he could not give a timeframe.
In terms of the functioning of the radio station prior to the recent damage, Ashley said it was almost independent, as all it received from the National Communications Network was news.
“We would also have various programmes in the afternoon where we have our locals on the air and in the morning as well. Have various programmes that are broadcasted so that the residents and the listeners could be entertained…Only thing that was coming from Georgetown was the news,” he said.
Commenting on the current electricity woes facing residents in Mabaruma over the last two months, Ashley said he hoped the standby generator promis-ed by the Ministry of Natural Resources would arrive today, thus bringing some relief.
He also reiterated that the arrival and installation of the standby generator is just a short-term measure as steps have already been taken to procure a new engine for Mabaruma, a process that is expected to be completed in the coming weeks with the assistance of the Ministry of Communities and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
Stabroek News understands that normally, residents in the sub-region are supplied daily with nine hours of electricity (5 pm to 11 pm and 5 am to 8 am). However, after the generator went down on May 15, residents were left without electricity.
Region One Regional Executive Officer Leslie Wilburg in a statement issued by the Department of Public Information/ Government Information Agency (DPI/GINA) explained that after purchasing parts to repair the generator, it was discovered that it could not be fixed without spending large sums of money.
Wilburg was quoted as saying, “The options were either to purchase a new plant, or spend more to repair it.” He considered both options and then shared his recommendations by way of a letter with the Minister of Communities and Minister of Public Infrastructure.
DPI/GINA said that the options were to repair the plant for some $8.4 million with a timeframe of four to five weeks or repair for $6 million. The other option was to buy a new plant for some $16.7 million with one week’s framework for installation, or $14.4 million with the installation time of three to four weeks.
Stabroek News had reported on June 24 about the weeks-long plight of residents. Up to that point they had been given no assurance as to when the power problem would be rectified.
One businessman in the community had told this newspaper that the situation was “terrible.” He explained that businesses were 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.
This is not the first time that the community has experienced 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.