Finding a lasting solution to the power woes
The issue regarding the constant power outages across Guyana and its huge negative impact on both individuals and businesses is once again making the headlines. The problem seems insurmountable for the Government to deal with, as promises to make blackouts a thing of the past remain unfulfilled, and it looks as if Guyanese will have to wait much longer before they could enjoy the ‘good life’ promised by the coalition Government on the 2015 campaign trail.
It is well known that businesses are becoming fed up with the situation, and based on information gathered, some are even contemplating closing shop. For example, the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECCI) had issued a passionate call for the Government intervene and bring some relief to the residents of Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), especially the business sector— who were all suffering tremendously because of the inadequate power supply.
The ECCI President was quoted in this newspaper as saying that the Region’s commerce is collapsing owing to the poor service offered by Guyana Power and Light (GPL). It was revealed that businesses were dumping products and those who have standby generators were pumping thousands of dollars into fuel and maintenance costs.
Now that Guyana’s oil and gas sector is about to take off, it would be in the country’s interest to have a reliable supply of power. Investors, manufacturers, and so on will not be attracted to come here and do business if the present situation— as it relates to electricity supply— continues.
In addition to the negative impact on businesses as a result of blackouts, it is a huge discomfort to individuals as it disrupts their daily lives. Also, everyone knows that constant power surges can result in severe damage to household appliances and even cause fires, etc. It is even more frustrating when one considers the fact that GPL does not have any clear policies as it relates to providing compensation when electrical appliances or machinery etc are damaged because of irregular power supply.
It is clear that both businesses and private individuals are dissatisfied with the service being provided by the power company, especially so since the cost they are paying for such service has not decreased; in fact, it has increased over the past few years, even though Government has been saving millions of dollars because of declining oil prices on the world market.
At present, it is still not clear as to what steps are being taken to bring a lasting solution to the power woes the country has been experiencing; in fact, officials have been giving one excuse after the other, which does not help in any way. Some experts believe that there is a manifest lack of short— and long—term solutions to address the company’s inefficiency. They have expressed the view that no relief is being provided by the Government in the short-term, and no effective plan is in place to address the situation in the medium to long term, which could eventually see the problem deteriorating further.
We had stated before that Guyana could have been in a better position regarding an affordable, reliable supply of electricity if there was bipartisan support for the Amaila Falls Hydropower (AFHP) project— which should have been in the system from 2017. Unfortunately, the APNU/AFC parties, while in Opposition, did everything they could to kill the project.
That said, we are not oblivious to the many problems being experienced by the power company. These problems, which include line losses and electricity theft, have been known for decades and have certainly had a tremendous impact on the company’s ability to provide better services to Guyanese consumers. The extent of electricity theft is shocking and GPL must continue to tackle the issue frontally.
The authorities must stop making excuses and find a solution to the problem once and for all. After investing so many billions, in this day and age, these constant power outages are unacceptable.