The recent spate of blackouts across the country has sparked suspicions from Government whether the outages were coincidences…or something else.
Questioned yesterday about the outages which have been rocking the country, in all three counties, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, disclosed that the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) has been ordered to provide a report on the outages, which has caused shutdowns in not only the Demerara and Berbice interconnected grid, but in other areas like Bartica, Region Seven; and Essequibo coast, Region Two.
According to Harmon, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who was performing the duties of the President, on Thursday asked GPL to provide a report.
With widespread complaints and a growing pressure on Government to fix the situation, the administration appeared to be mystified by the outages.
“It seems as if some of these things were happening so much at the same time…all across the country… as if it was something planned. We will have to investigate the occurrence of these things almost simultaneously,” Harmon said.
Not only were there three separate shutdowns earlier this week that saw customers in Berbice and Demerara without power for hours, but engines in both Bartica and Anna Regina, went down, forcing GPL to cut power in load shedding exercises to several communities in these areas.
In Demerara, the problems are a combination of bad timings or something else. They have to do with new infrastructure on which Guyana spent billions of dollars early last year.
The infrastructure included new high-power transmission lines along the coastlands, along with seven sub-stations and new submarine cables across the Berbice and Demerara rivers, creating an interconnected system.
There were both built by Chinese contractor, CMC.
The submarine cable across the Demerara River was damaged, apparently by a vessel back in July.
The damaged cable in effect cut the delivery of excess power from the new 26-megawatt power plant at Vreed-en-Hoop, West Demerara to the city and Berbice.
The absence of the excess power left GPL on the edge, with frequent trips causing shutdowns.
GPL is currently shipping in critical repair parts for the damaged cable, but it is unlikely that it will be fixed before next month.
Then in the city, a transmission line linking the Kingston and Sophia facilities of GPL has developed faults.
GPL reportedly carried out some repairs but the line is continuing to face problems, proving a major distribution problem.
GPL engineers are reportedly now battling to isolate the faults. In the meantime, the outages continue.
Meanwhile, with regards to then situation at Bartica, which has also been plagued with outages, Harmon explained that the three engines developed problems one after the other—from a faulty radiator, to a cracked engine head to a stuck piston.
Two of the engines went down and left the third one to bear the load. However, that engine also went down recently leaving Bartica without power for hours.
GPL was forced to dispatch engineers from MACORP to conduct emergency repairs.
According to the Minister, it is the plan to introduce new generation equipment in Bartica, an area considered a key gold mining community.
In Essequibo, the problems are similar, so moves are underway to not only install new generators but also to convert the systems to a 60 hertz cycle to increase efficiency.
GPL itself has been slow off the start this year when it comes to getting a number of projects off the ground.
A major infrastructure project to install over almost 30,000 smart meters, new transformers and low and medium voltage power lines along the coastlands, has been delayed.
Tenders for the project, opened since in February, are still being “assessed” eight months later with bidders becoming nervous.
CMC, the same contractor; Cummings Electrical and Fix-it Hardware are some of the companies that have submitted bids for this $3.6B project.
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