– finds illegal connections that pose fire hazard, risk of electrocution
It definitely wasn’t Sunday shopping as usual at the Vendors’ Arcade yesterday.
After a long period of enjoying free electricity, some were defiant, while others got word and hurriedly shut or abandoned their stalls, when a Guyana Power and Light, GPL team from the Loss Reduction Department, Field Services Section conducted an early morning raid at the popular vending site.
There, the disconnection team unearthed over 25, craftily hidden illegal electrical connections to stalls, which a GPL official said posed potential danger to vendors and were also fire hazards. Yesterday’s raid unearthed illegal risky connections, rerouted and by passing of meters.
The 25 illegal connections were only a fraction of the scores of similar connections at the Arcade. Because of time constraint and lack of police personnel to ensure security during the raid, only some were removed.
While one stall holder will have to face the courts for electricity theft (possibly being fined $50,000 or imprisoned for a year), others escaped by abandoning their stalls.
Some view the operation as harassment but there was no major verbal or physical confrontation as wires that were craftily secured above sheds and aback of clothing were removed.
“We does sub with other stall holders who got meter and pay because things tight,” was a commonly expressed sentiment.
“Is not we fault that we ain’t got meters; we rent the stall just so,”one man said.
In some sections of the arcade that adjoins Regent Street, some women hurled obscenities at the team while labeling some of their fellow stall holders as “kochores.”
One woman openly declared “the blood of Jesus” after unleashing a volley of obscenities when the crewmen removed her connection.
However, her lines were reconnected after the crew realised that she was among the vendors who had metered legal connections and she was reconnected.
Sheldon Wickham, a senior investigator (Ag) supervised the operation. He said the disconnection exercise is the second of its kind conducted so far around Georgetown to signal the resumption of the removal of all illegal connections.
“People may say all manner of things, but we are actually saving lives and limbs because these connections can prove costly to life, limb and property,” he stated.
The one stall holder arrested yesterday joins five others nabbed on Saturday since the disconnection operation intensified.
He said it is the company’s belief that there would be less fraudulent diversion of electricity.
In the arcade some vendors were happy as they say they pay their bills on time and viewed the illegal connections as unfair and a risk to their livelihoods.
Others complained that the move hinders their earning power because “the place in darkness and we not making money.”
The power company is encouraging persons to desist from electricity theft as it does not only affect others but can ultimately affect the culprits through fires and electrocution.
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