There is a saying that change is the only constant in life, but what about when nothing changes? Does it mean that the world is less constant? If that is the case, then what does it say about the electricity situation in Guyana which has struggled to change in the last 30 years?
Power blackouts have been constant in Guyana for decades, especially in the rural areas.
This government like all of its predecessors has promised to solve the problem, but there has been very little action. The power blackout on the Essequibo Coast which is in its third week is a classic case of this government promising to fix the problem. Its rhetoric that it is committed to providing reliable electricity supply to its valued customers has not calmed the anger of the consumers. Action speaks louder than words. The nation needs a proactive government.
There was a time when citizens had become accustomed to having electricity readily available at the flick of a switch. There was also a time when the urban population was expanding due to the creation of new housing schemes and industries outside of the city, and with them came the demand for more electricity. Electricity did expand alongside the housing schemes and the new industries, but unfortunately, it was not enough to meet the demand.
However, a few years after independence, Guyana began to experience power outages – initially sporadic, then very frequent and widespread.
Power failures have taken their toll over the years in terms of the environment. Public safety has always been at risk. Institutions such as hospitals, sewage treatment plants and manufacturing entities etc., will usually have backup power sources such as standby generators.
The rich and powerful have alternate sources of power in the event of a blackout, but not the masses who have to suffer due to their dependency on GPL.
While there are many causes of power failures which range from faults at power stations to damage to electrical transmission lines and substations, or the overloading of the system, people are fed-up with the interruptions in their daily lives, the poor quality of service and the incompetency of GPL and by extension the government. GPL is only competent when it is time to cut off electricity from the poor for failing to pay their bills
Despite promises by governments to solve the problem, blackouts continue. There has been little change under this government, which promised that if elected to office, it would end blackouts by the end of 2016, and that there would be greater stability in GPL’s service. This has not materialized. The psychological effects and the actual trauma of blackouts on the citizens have generally been ignored. The nation is suffering from the syndrome of blackout-fatigue and there is no end in sight.
Despite promises, underpinned by international loans and financial aid from several countries and financial institutions, governments have failed to address this issue in an effective manner.
Blackouts have unfortunately become a part of life for the people, many of whom cannot even remember a time when there were no power outages. This is an indictment on our leaders.
Even though the situation today is much more improved than what had existed years ago, yet, there has not been anything close to a solution. With added power generation capacity over the years, neither GPL nor the government has reached the stage where they can say with certainty to the public that there will be no more power blackouts.
The constant setbacks have cost us immensely. We could ill afford this.
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