One of GPL’s problems is contracting electrical companies to do outdoor work

Dear Editor,

After tribulations with the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) my meter was installed on Thursday 22nd March, 2018. I thought it only fitting to give a conclusion to my tale of woe which had commenced on January 17th, 2018.

The same morning of the installation, I had received a call from the Chief Executive Officer of the GPL, Mr Albert Gordon, who invited me to meet with him at his office, the following week. I told him that I hoped I would have my meter by then. I engaged him in some light banter in spite of my predicament, interspersed with expressions of the gravity of my situation. Not much later in the morning, I received a call from the GPL, saying that they were coming to do an inspection. I told them that had been done many times before. The caller said that he was just carrying out instructions from his manager. He came, accompanied by two others. They looked around the yard, came inside, asked a few questions and left. Shortly thereafter, I received another call from the GPL saying that they were coming to install the meter. A very pleasant and professional engineer came, along with his crew. So, it was finally installed.

Two days prior to the installation, I had called to ask for Gordon. When Gordon called, he told me that he was focused on stopping the continuous blackouts and I told him that would be welcomed by everyone and that I had had unceasing blackouts for the past two months. I told him that I felt my experience with the GPL was not an isolated one, but might actually be one of many experienced by customers. I told him that it was obviously a problem with the GPL’s managers and that they did not perform well in my case. I wished him the best in his new role and told him that he couldn’t do it alone and that he needs a team of competent managers. His outreach to me and his delivery, along with his intentions for the GPL to provide good service, made me feel that he deserves my confidence that we are going to see an improvement from the GPL under his tenure.

A major problem lies with the GPL contracting electrical companies to provide the electricians to do the outdoor work. This means that these employees will exert allegiance to their company and not to the GPL. In many cases, they turn a blind eye to illegal connections or unpaid bills. Their conduct is not supervised by the GPL and they cannot be dismissed by the GPL. This contributes to the GPL’s loss of revenue. It is a strange modus operandi of the GPL to recruit companies to provide these personnel. I could think of a few reasons for them doing so. One of these is that they wouldn’t have to worry about strikes by these electricians or them being

unionised. If the GPL employed these electricians and they were to strike, then it would cause a severe disruption in the supply of electricity to many citizens and a major loss of revenue for the company. It is also likely that it costs less to pay a contractor than to pay several employees employed within the GPL. However, I see this as illogical and being penny wise and

pound foolish. The contracted employees would be more prone to accepting bribes than if they were on the GPL’s payroll. The GPL could pay them attractive wages, maybe more than what is paid to them by the contractors. Maybe the GPL could even give them rewards for reports of vandalism, theft or overdue bills.

Yours faithfully,

Conrad Barrow

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