In previous letters, I have been critical of the management style of the Guyana Power & Light CEO, Bharat Dindyal, and have called for his removal from that position. Over the years, nothing hazhanged that would cause me to reverse my opinion of him. Like the saying goes, a fish rots from the head down.
Understandably, our Government continues to pour monies in subsidies to allow GPL to improve its services to the Guyanese consumers with very little results to justify the political risks they face at every budget debate. But it appears that unless the head is removed, and department heads are made more accountable, we will not see any significant improvement to this utility monopoly.
While it is true that the electricity supply has vastly improved from 20 years ago, and while it is also true that Guyana desperately needs to develop the Amaila Falls Hydropower Plant, I wonder how much longer does Dindyal realistically expect the Government of Guyana to continue defending his constant demands for subsidies from the national treasury?
Every subsidy given to GPL by the taxpayers is intended to prevent an increase in consumer rates and to provide a better service to the Guyanese people. Unfortunately, just when we’re lead to believe that our electricity woes will soon be over, there is always something more that is needed to “improved quality of supply, system stability, improved voltage regulation, and reduced technical losses.” GPL is becoming notorious for creating excuses for their incompetence.
For the past year, I have been paying to GPL, an average of about $22,000.00 per month for my electricity consumption. Suddenly, my consumption for the month of May increased by 100% to $41,458.00. (account number 0306127) although I am consciously trying to conserve electricity, and have done nothing unusual to justify such an increase.
I called GPL Customer Service about 8:10 hours one morning, only to hear from an automated attendant, “The operator is not available, exiting the system.” I persisted until finally I was connected to Mr. Seon Martindale, a GPL costumer service representative.
During my brief discussion with Mr. Martindale, I became convinced more than ever, that with very few exception, quality customer service is sadly lacking in Guyana. I had reason to remind this GPL employee that consumers pay his salary, and the tone of his voice was totally unacceptable. He sounded rude and arrogant.
I then proceeded to visit GPL to get some answers as to the 100% increase in my May-month bill. I took a ticket from the dispenser, and proceeded to wait my turn. My number was G24. I looked up on the monitor, and observed that the last number called was 04. In total, twenty-one persons were waiting to be served. Of the 11 stations, only five employees were available to deal with consumer problems. In forty-five minutes of waiting, I began to get impatient for the number on the monitor had only moved two places from 04 to 06.
I then left with my ticket, went to the nearby Germans Restaurant and enjoyed a popular Guyanese cuisine, Pepperopt & Rice. After lunch, I went back to GPL and waited another thirty minutes before my number finally showed up on the monitor. The young lady I spoke to, Ms. Whyte, was pleasant and very professional in the way she addressed my problem.
Although she could not definitively identify the source for the increase in consumption, I was extremely pleased with her demeanor, and left with the feeling that there is hope for GPL after all. I was instructed to switch off the mains to check for a faulty meter, and to report my findings before a GPL technician could be dispatched to check the meter.
However, I am convinced that the frequent power surges that occurred every time electricity was restored after blackouts, are directly responsible for the increase in my May-month consumption. This coincided with a record number of blackouts that affected the Great Diamond area where I live. There were just too many blackouts for this explanation not to be credible. A power surge that occurs after a blackout, is often responsible for damaging consumers’ appliances in homes and offices. I doubt I will ever be reimbursed by the cash-strapped GPL, but I intend to closely monitor the meter reading on a regular basis to insure that that my bill accurately reflects my electricity consumption every month. A consumer should not be burdened with this task.
The people and Government of Guyana are not getting value for money from the Guyana Power & Light. As CEO, Bharat Dindyal must accept full responsibility for the inconvenience consumers are made to suffer. He should either step down or be replaced. The Guyanese deserve better service from GPL, we demand better!
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