Latest update March 31st, 2023 12:59 AM
May 11, 2012 Letters
Dear Mr. Editor,
I refer to the letter by Mr. Lincoln Lewis in the Stabroek News of Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Lincoln Lewis’s assertion that “six years ago Linden steam turbines, diesel generators and the 69KV lines between the Garden of Eden and Linden were removed and taken to develop electricity in the Berbice region,” is untrue in many ways, and must be condemned for what it is- a coded untruth promoting division.
Going by reports in the media, many inaccurate, untrue statements were being touted by various leaders, whipping up the citizens of Linden against the true statement worked out with APNU leaders in Parliament, which I read in Parliament about the agreed conditions for the merger of electricity providers in Linden into the national utility, GPL.
Initially, electricity customers in Linden would be paying only half of what their fellow Guyanese are paying whether they live in Bartica, Corriverton, New Amsterdam or Anna Regina.
It was in the vehemence of the objection to this “pay only 50% of billing” offer, which kindled across our country widespread curiosity, seeking and learning that the tariffs in Linden are just $5 and $7 per kWh for domestic/ residential customers on the East Bank and West Bank at Linden respectively, and similarly $12 and $15 for commercial customers.
This situation having been thus brought to the front page of our nation, was crying out for a response from the Government! Any “coding” in the President’s Statement flows from the fact that Linden is paying only 10% to 20% of what fellow Guyanese elsewhere currently pay, and that Mr. Lewis and other leaders have fomented Lindeners to refuse to pay anything more.
Let me return to Mr. Lewis’s assertions, which deliberately create the picture of Government stripping Linden of electricity assets six years ago.
Firstly, the steam power plant built in stages over 1955 to 1961 as part of the alumina plant was indeed a “cogeneration” plant, at the forefront of the technology for plants of that size, at that time. Steam generated by burning heavy fuel oil was generated at very high pressure, and was used firstly to generate electricity, then to heat the liquor streams in the alumina plant. Thus every pound of steam did two jobs and the steam power station received two income flows. This was, for the number of years when the alumina plant was running, the cheapest electricity in Guyana.
However, when the alumina plant was closed in 1983, nearly thirty years ago, this steam power station became one of the most costly generators of electricity. Not only was there only one income stream (the electricity) to cover all costs, but for technical reasons, the cogeneration design had now become inefficient.
There was something else that was happening- from the mid 1970’s, with growing financial/economic problems, maintenance schedules could not be kept. Whilst, quite rightly, maintenance of the power station was given the highest priority, by the mid 1980’s, the steam power station itself began to suffer from overcycling, and the generators experienced flashovers. By 1990, on economic grounds, the steam station was ready for abandoning.
The boilers, steam turbines and alternators are still in the steam power station. They were not removed, not six years ago, not ever! I cannot imagine that Mr. Lewis doesn’t know this.
With regard to the 69KV line joining Garden of Eden and Linden, by the end of the 1980’s, neither GEC nor the Linden Bauxite Company was in a position to send power to the other. The line fell out of use and vandalism of the line began. After 1992, GEC did seek my permission to recover the remaining materials for use elsewhere in GEC (as the line was owned by GEC).
I did not grant approval for the very good reason that it might have appeared then with improving prospects for GEC, that it was Government’s policy to abandon Linden. Eventually, most of the line was vandalized, and eventually, about twelve years ago in 2000, the portion remaining near the Linden end was granted to the electricity provider in Linden.
With respect to diesel generators, all in the diesel generating plant were in poor condition and were abandoned when Omai brought their Wartsila diesel station into operation in Linden in 2005. And yes, two of the abandoned engines were transferred to GPL in 2009 and were totally rebuilt and installed at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice and Versailles, West Bank Demerara.
With regard to the Bauxite Pension Plan, Mr. Lewis would know that on privatizing to Omai, the old company had to be brought to an end. Mr. Lewis would also know that owing to the difficulties from the mid 1970s to the 1990s the bauxite company had no money to make the required payments to the savings scheme, the GRA, the NIS and the bauxite pension scheme.
Mr. Lewis would also know that the Government had to provide billions of dollars to bring all of these up to date so that no worker would be left out in the rain as the old company was wound up. Mr. Lewis would know too that the Pension Plan was run neither by the Company nor the Government.
Mr. Lewis would know that as overwhelmingly preferred, the actuaries calculated what each member of the Pension Scheme would receive and having received his payout, there were a number of options before each worker regarding what he could do, as an individual, with his money.
If my memory serves me correctly, I received G$964,000 from my twenty-five years in the bauxite industry. I presume that Mr. Lewis too received what was due to him.
Mr. Lewis should remind himself of the difficulties in the bauxite town. These were becoming obvious from 1976 when new buildings having been started had to be abandoned; difficulties which culminated in 1983 when nearly 2000 workers- about one third of the workforce in Linden then- were retrenched. That retrenchment was the greatest assault on Linden and the people of Linden! That was when Linden entered its lowest period.
It is time that Mr. Lewis look around Linden today and see how much better off Linden is today than it was in 1983 or in 1992. It is time that Mr. Lewis put aside his rose-tinted glasses of the glorious days of bauxite, of 1976 and earlier, thirty-five and more years ago and look for the new opportunities and help us create a renaissance of Linden on new up to date bases.
For the record, GPL has not yet engaged the PUC in discussions about any increase in tariffs- indeed the Government’s intended allocation of G$6billion was to enable GPL to hold prices or minimize any increase in tariffs. Another instance where Mr. Lewis affirms what is not so!
In Guyana, nearly every statement could be judged by someone to be “coded”- it is thus even more important that statements be accurate. Lincoln Lewis needs to be held accountable for the things he says and does and he too must seek to fashion relationships based on truth and equality. He too can be accused of blatantly setting out to divide our people on ethnic and regional lines.
As I remarked on another occasion, Mr. Lewis must guard against misleading the people of Linden with the thinking that the only thing wrong with bauxite, Linden and Lindeners, is this PPP/C Government whilst people in Berbice and Sugar can do whatever they want and have whatever they want because of the PPP/C. Both peoples would be greatly deceived and misguided.
Samuel A Hinds, O.E, M.P
Prime Minister and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Energy
PPP’s strongest oil law!
Mar 31, 20232022/23 West Indies Championship… Kaieteur News – The Leeward Islands Hurricanes produced a patience-driven performance on the second day of their fifth round 2022/23 West Indies...
Mar 31, 2023
Mar 31, 2023
Mar 31, 2023
Mar 31, 2023
Mar 31, 2023
Kaieteur News – The PPP needs the PNC and the PNC needs the PPP. The two cannot exist without each other. There is... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]