Residents of Charity, Essequibo Coast, yesterday met with officials of the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) on the power outages continuing to plague the community and they were told that efforts underway to rectify the situation would yield results by this weekend.
Over the past eight days, residents of Charity have had no access to electricity and as a result the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) pump station in the village has been unable to supply water to the outlying areas.
The meeting, which was held in the boardroom of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) office at Anna Regina, saw the attendance of GPL Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Technical) Elwyn Marshall, GPL Regional Director Nigel Belfield, and representatives of the RDC and businesses in the region.
Region Two Chairman Devanand Ramdatt said that he expected frank and honest discussions to be garnered from the meeting. “Charity area is the most affected, and numerous problems are being faced by residents. We would like to have clear and sincere comments from GPL that can point us in a direction so we can see what’s in store for us in the region. The RDC recognised that Region Two needs to be more vocal in representing themselves and though quietness cannot be continued, decent efforts must still be made,” he said.
His remarks were, however, cut short as frustrated residents of Charity aired their concerns about the blackouts.
One resident said that he believes that the people of the Essequibo Coast are always treated unfairly and Essequibo continues to be the Cinderella County. “No fisherman can’t go to sea because there’s no ice for them to put their catch in and it is very expensive to have to go and buy ice,” he said.
Several residents noted that additional expenses had to be incurred since persons were forced to purchase generators for their homes and businesses.
“People had to be spending extra money to buy generators because of the blackouts. Now, if you have a business without electricity in the nights, you are making way for thieves. Our phones can’t be charged and we have absolutely no contact with relatives and friends who you can’t actually see every day,” a resident said.
Marshall said that GPL regretted the unreliable flow of current available in the region.
He noted that the power outages are due to loss of power in two major units, which could not be maintained to offer reliable service.
“The company has formulated a plan to minimise the periods of blackouts experienced throughout the northern section of the region. The Essequibo Coast has two sequences of power. Two years ago, a south system was established temporarily in Fairfield. Our plan is to relocate the set in Southfield to Anna Regina, this in turn would result in less load for the Anna Regina generator sets. At the same time, persons on the south will not experience power outages. …So that Charity can have some current for at least 12 hours. We are now fixing our equipment and have spare parts and more technicians. If all goes well, by Saturday the flow of electricity on the coast should be reverted to a state of normalcy,” he said.
The units at the Anna Regina Power Station are said to be old and worn-out and the number one unit currently has an alternator failure.
Marshall told those at the meeting that equipment was shipped from Miami to aid in the repairs and promised that by Saturday, electricity will be restored as normal.
“We are sure that the set would be operational by tomorrow evening. GPL has paid to acquire three new units with 5.1 megawatts, the new units are expected to be commissioned by late October of this year,” he added.
President of the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce Duleep Singh said that the services provided by GPL are grossly inadequate in the region. “Those two engines have lost both their lives for quite a long time now, years. The northern part of the Essequibo Coast contributes 75% to the region’s economic activity. The people of Charity are poor and ordinary people. The hospital is out of water. Communication linking us to the world is still down. We don’t give GPL problems, GPL gives us problems instead and we pay our bills so we expect better. A lot of families can’t get water to do domestic work, more so to have a bath. We have meat and vegetable that we had to throw away.”
Residents are hoping that electricity will be restored as soon as possible and that the supply of electricity will be steady and efficient,” he added.
It was noted at the meeting that the RDC will seek to make arrangements to have water tanks put in place to supply residents of Charity.