Feb 10, 2012 Letters
Kaieteur News article “GPL to hire private attorney’s to prosecute current thieves” (January 24) disclosed some very disturbing facts that need to be addressed here.
In a recent letter, I exposed PNC/APNU Parliamentarian John Adams, who had been caught on three different occasions by GPL, stealing electricity.
Although there are many known cases of persons involved in this criminal act, I was deliberately focused on John Adams because he is now in a position to contribute to laws that affect the lives of all Guyanese, and has no moral authority to do so. My investigation of Adams, however, took me right into the belly of the beast -GPL, where at least one corrupted manager in the Loss Reduction Unit, hereafter referred to as ‘Mr. Unscrupulous‘, makes a thief of electricity like Parliamentarian John Adams look like an altar boy.
Corruption runs deep within GPL, and this is the first place that needs to be placed under a microscope.
GPL is losing a tremendous amount of revenue, and sadly, the greed of some employees contributes significantly to this. Consumers will always find ways to steal electricity if high ranking GPL officials are willing to cut deals with them for personal gains, in order to avoid prosecution and paying back the full amount due GPL.
A few weeks ago, I brought this to the attention of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GPL, Bharat Dindyal, who appeared very defensive, very naive and sometimes totally oblivious of what actually goes on in a company he’s responsible for.
‘Mr. Unscrupulous’ (his real name was given to GPL CEO Dindyal) is a senior manager within the same department that goes after persons stealing electricity, known as the Lost Reduction Unit. When a person is caught stealing, and an assessment made to determine the amount owing GPL, according to Mr. Dindyal, the calculation is set in law and is not arbitrarily done. He told me that when tampering cases are found, the calculation is done and sent to the Commercial Operations in Main Street where a review is done on the calculation. He rules out corruption because the Main Street branch has to continue the commercial arrangement with the customer.
He said that GPL has an integrated system that has to come through Main Street. And for ‘Mr. Unscrupulous’ to issue a meter, he would have to get someone from that department to create a Job Card. For this to actually happen, a whole host of people would have to be involved.
The system as described by the Chief Executive Officer may be a good one, but it’s not fool-proof.
I spend over 30 frustrating minutes on the phone trying to convince the CEO of GPL that this is exactly what is happening under his nose… quite a few GPL employees are involved in this money-making racket, and just how high up the chain it goes, is anyone’s guess.
‘Mr. Unscrupulous’ has found a way to circumvent the system that’s in place. But for Dindyal to admit that, would also be admitting to his failure to stop corruption within GPL despite the high turnover of low-level staff caught in illegal activities there.
He needs to go after the brains of the operation, and either have them prosecuted and terminate their services, or transferred out of the Loss Reduction Unit where they can no longer milk the company to pay their mortgages and car payments.
Everyone at GPL but Mr. Dindyal seems to know that ‘Mr. Unscrupulous’ has a huge mortgage on the house he recently build and is now living in. He also bought a car. I was told from my very reliable source that his salary alone cannot support his high lifestyle, but he pays for it with four to five “tampering Cases” a month, netting several hundred thousand dollars. In fact I was told that the kick backs he gets from tampering cases each month, far exceed his salary.
This is how it’s done: ‘Mr. Unscrupulous’ cuts deals with persons caught stealing electricity, and allows them to pay significantly less than the ‘calculated rate’ without prosecution.
He gets a sizable part of that money, and a smaller amount is paid in to GPL. The culprits are cleared to receive new meter accounts. ‘Mr. Unscrupulous’ then sends out his team of technicians headed by his trusted team leader (name also given to GPL CEO Dindyal) who “tampers” with the new meters, setting them to read low consumption.
This means that the meters are set to read less than the amount of electricity actually consumed. This is a crime, but it’s part of the agreed settlement he makes with the thieves.
GPL CEO Dindyal wanted hard evidence from me, citing similar “malicious accusations” by businessmen, and anonymous letters written to the President and Prime Minister by “people supposedly within the department”.
These people, according to the CEO, are doing this “basically to put certain strategic managers on the defensive”. He even suggested that my arguments were similar to those made in the anonymous letters, and implied I may have seen them.
I was flattered to think he would believe that an ordinary citizen like me would have access to letters written to the leaders of this nation without the Freedom of Information Act. But this demonstrates the stubbornness of this man to act upon confidential inside information that can save his company and the taxpayers of this country, billions of dollars that are now lost through theft and corruption.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but Dindyal was adamant that he can do nothing without evidence. Yet all the evidence he seeks is locked away in a filing cabinet in the office of ‘Mr. Unscrupulous’ in the Loss Reduction Unit. Files that he has access to, and wants me, an outsider, to get for him?
How ludicrous; I’m not being paid to do his job. All he needs to do, is to pull a few “tampering” files at random, send a trusted technician to check the meters to determine whether they have been tampered with, and have Mr. Unscrupulous arrested when the results prove positive.
But he’s not prepared to do this. For as he explained, “We can’t go into somebody’s office basically, and acting as if they’re guilty of something.” Now after this letter is published, I bet those files will simply disappear.
According to the Kaieteur News report, “Approximately 30 per cent of the population is illegally connected and this has caused GPL commercial losses estimated at $2 billion annually. Records reveal that 22 percent of the company’s losses are non-technical in nature and are largely as a result of electricity theft, faulty meters and deficiencies in the billing system.”
If I was the CEO of a company with this track record, I would do a thorough housecleaning and prosecute or fire all corrupted employees, or I would do the next best thing… quit the job for incompetence and poor job performance.
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