AFC accuses GPL of denying some West Berbice residents the right to electricity
The Alliance for Change is charging that Guyana Power and Light company is denying some 100 residents of Third Street, Number 30 Village, West Coast Berbice, their ‘right’ to the supply of electricity.
At its weekly media briefing, yesterday, the opposition party called on Government to abandon what it described as the administration’s ‘lethargy and incompetence’ demonstrated in dealing with this matter and remedy the matter urgently.
The AFC statement came at its weekly media briefing when, in addition to the electricity supply issue, the party addressed the threat of violence against bauxite workers; the multimillion dollar cost for construction of toilet facilities at the Chenapau Primary School; the Guyana Elections Commission’s postponement of the scheduled claims and objections period; Diamond Estate sugar workers being used for political gain; and cautioned Guyanese against defrauders and swindlers.
According to the AFC, after years of pleading with GPL for power supply, the electricity company told residents of the eastern half of Number 30 Village that they must make a capital payment of some $2 million before work could begin on lighting to the area.
“The AFC holds that electricity, in this 21st century, is a fundamental human right, critical to almost all spheres of existence,” the party stated, and added, “It is one of the most basic and elementary of government’s responsibility to institute and implement the necessary infrastructure to enhance the quality of life for our people.”
The residents, some of whom attended the media briefing at the AFC Fourth Street Campbellville headquarters, reportedly raised the matter with in the Berbice media and Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, and were later called to a meeting with Prime Minister Sam Hinds.
Mr Hinds then gave them a letter for GPL authorising the company to enter a contractual agreement with the residents for payment of the amount in a year’s time.
Residents however claimed that one of the power company’s engineers with whom they spoke paid scant regard to the Prime Minister’s letter and said that a $900,000 down payment is necessary before commencement of work.
Explaining that he knew nothing about the exchange between the residents and the engineer, GPL Chief Executive Officer, Bharat Dindyal, however told this newspaper that the existing protocol between the power company and the Prime Minister’s office is that any such letter be delivered directly to him and not anyone else.
“It is strange that they are saying that the Prime Minister was involved and no correspondence came to me. It is not that we are unwilling to reach a deal. Let me say that in principle we do not take the PM’s instructions lightly,” he said.
Mr Dindyal explained that the contribution to capital works by residents in outlying areas is required in advance because the company has experienced that after laying down the power supply network many residents do not live up to their obligation to make good on due payments.
“Residents have said that perhaps the most debilitating aspect of the absence of electricity is the impact on the young people who are currently preparing for their CSEC examinations,” the AFC stated.
This was supported by area resident of 14 years, Aslyn Robin: “When the night comes I have to go out to my mother,” she told this newspaper. She explained that she had to trek with her daughter to First Street so the child can continue studying for CXC examinations.
Mrs Robin lives with her husband and five children. “I have a generator but cannot use it for the cost of gas,” she said, explaining that gasoline costs $1,000 per gallon.
And contending that the rights of workers in Guyana are increasingly under attack, the party became another of the labour and political opposition groups to condemn the threat of physical violence used against bauxite workers, allegedly made by Ruslan Volokhov, general manager of the company contracted to manage the industry.
The AFC stated that Volokhov must be dismissed. “The AFC calls on the PPP administration to abandon its incompetence and take a firm stance on this issue.”
Commenting on a news report that government spent $11.7 million to build toilets in the compound of Chenapau Primary School, the AFC stated that the administration’s reaction to the revelation was that the expenditure included building a wired fence, installing a solar panel and a water pump. This did not add up to the stated cost, the AFC said.
“The sum in question can purchase a middle income house lot in Diamond/Grove for $500,000, build and finish a two-storied concrete house (25 feet by 35 feet), erect trestles and procure tanks for water storage and have change to ‘buy sweets for the children,’” AFC stated.