Residents of the Essequibo Coast, West Bank and West Coast of Demerara say they are frustrated and “fed up” with the continuous blackouts, which had some parts of Region Three without power for more than 24 hours.
Several villages, from as far as Wales on the West Bank of Demerara, and from as far as Leonora on the West Coast were without electricity for more than a day. Not only were residents inconvenienced by the lack of electricity, there were other ripple effects such as the lack of running water, which only added to persons’ woes.
As customary, persons took to social media to vent their frustrations at the “continued disrespect that is meted out against paying customers by GPL [Guyana Power and Light].”
“At this point in time it is beyond comprehension. It’s beyond any reasoning and I don’t think I even want to know the answer. How at this day and age in 2017, several villages are being forced to go without electricity for an entire day and more. It’s just unbelievable,” Ramesh Subryan, a resident of Schoonord, related to Stabroek News yesterday.
According to the man, power was restored to the villages around 7 pm on Tuesday, and they have not had any other power outages since, but a day without electricity which reportedly started before 7 pm on Monday evening, has caused a lot of inconvenience to hundreds of residents.
“Think about it for a second. An entire day without any power. Not like it came on for couple hours or so during that time. It went off and stayed off. Persons with meat and other perishables in their fridges lost them all because they eventually spoiled. People have to endure the heat and mosquitoes in the nights and it’s not like you can sleep with both of those things attacking you,” the man added, while adding that he himself has lost several thousands of dollars in spoiled meat and vegetables, and has also not been able to sleep without the electricity.
Several other residents on both the West Bank and West Coast of Demerara also echoed similar sentiments. The residents said they were “disgusted” and “fed up” with the current state of the country’s electrical infrastructure and said they still cannot believe that “all of this is still happening in 2017.”
“You know, all them years we accustomed to this thing you think we would still be accustomed to it when it comes knocking at your door but you never are. It’s 2017. We got oil coming soon and is like nothing ain’t getting better. This is nothing new with GPL or GPHELL as people does call it,” one woman related, while explaining that she was unable to shower for the day which made it even more difficult to sleep.
Another resident explained that he was unable to iron his clothes for work on Wednesday and was forced to wear them as they were.
In Region Two, on the Essequibo Coast, persons were still experiencing a daily dose of the lack of electricity. According to one resident, from Charity to Anna Regina and some parts of Onderneeming are faced with constant blackouts. The resident explained that they only receive power from 3 pm to 9 pm every day, which is proving to be a major inconvenience to residents.
“We are happy that we do have electricity, but then it is still so very hard for us. People now have additional expenses every day because some persons have generators and have to spend about $3,000 for gas each day,” the resident explained, while pointing out that persons who cannot afford generators have to suffer and cannot store meat or other perishables.
Stabroek News had reported almost a month ago about the Region’s electricity woes, which have not improved since.
Speaking with this publication, Lana George, a frustrated resident of Charity, said she was hoping that quick action would be taken to restore normalcy in the distribution of electricity on the coast.
“As a public servant, I am sick and tired of GPL’s incompetence and slothfulness on the Essequibo Coast. They are quick to disconnect and increase bills and are quite efficient at doing that, but when it comes to providing basic services, like stable electricity, they are downright sickening. Charity has been reduced to having electricity every other night for over a month and the situation has deteriorated to five days now without electricity.
“They fail to realise that without electricity, there is a drop of water availability too. As a teacher and a mother of a nursery school child, I thank God that school is closed, or I don’t know what would have become of us,” she stated.
In a public advisory posted on their Facebook Page on Tuesday, the Power Company stated that as they seek to provide continuous electricity supply to customers on the Essequibo Coast, they continue to experience challenges with the No. 2 generating unit.
“In light of this development, residents in the following communities will receive electricity on a rotation basis for up to 12 hours per day. Devonshire Castle to Charity – 12:00hrs – 24:00hrs. Anna Regina to Devonshire Castle – 24:00hrs – 12:00hrs. This schedule will remain in effect until August 10, 2017,” the advisory stated.
In addition to Region Two and Region Three, Region Four and other parts of the country have also been plagued with a spate blackouts for several months. Just yesterday, Cummings Lodge and its environs lost electricity four times during the day.
The Power Company’s continued poor performance and the continuous shutdown of the Demearara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) has since forced Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson to make a statement.
Speaking to the Department of Public Information (DPI) on Tuesday, Patterson said he was disappointed with the recent spate of blackouts and would dedicate the parliamentary recess to intervening and finding solutions. He declared that he will be visiting the power stations to ascertain first-hand what interventions can be made to restore normalcy.
Patterson told DPI that the issue remains with the transmission and distribution system.
“Over the years our transmission and distribution line has deteriorated. I keep saying this and I don’t want persons to think that we know the problem and should be addressing it. It’s still functional and can transmit electricity very efficiently, but we should be able to isolate the disturbances”, he asserted.
The issue of the transmission and distribution system is further compounded with other non-technical matters, including receiving clearance from the Guyana Revenue Authority and the wharves. The Minister explained that new equipment was procured but it is stuck due to clearance issues which should have been quickly and easily addressed.
According to DPI, the Minister added that GPL is currently financially stable, therefore, monies should be invested towards enhanced generation so that issues such as tree trimming and burnt generators will not affect distribution.
Despite the company’s general annual maintenance, which saw sections of the country being without power for more than six hours at various intervals, the problem continues to persist, without any indication of positive change.
Questions have been raised on whether the scheduled maintenance had any positive effect on the company’s infrastructure, since some say that the frequency of blackouts has increased since the general works.