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As far as many can remember, or care to remember, the electricity situation is simply a mess. Not only is the service unreliable and expensive but the tragedies brought on those who rely on it cannot be quantified or qualified. Very rarely a week goes by without power outages(blackout).
Successive governments have committed to delivering a better service but they have all fallen short. Consumers are often made to feel this state-owned business should be privatised because it continues to disappoint. By the failure of government to deliver an efficient supply they continue to feed perception the service is in the wrong hands, the government is operating above its pay grade, or the government is cuddling the inefficiency. Consumers continue to feel in the scheme of things they are not valued.
This state-owned service has not been deprived of promises, financial investments, policy directives, and the so-called competent upper level management team. In spite of the resources being put into this sector the service remains unreliable, suggesting something is definitely wrong and the government has not been able to tackle the problems or is incapable of doing so. Even a name change- formerly the Guyana Electricity Corporation (GEC) and later renamed the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) – has not spared what has become a blighted service.
Unreliable supply has wreaked havoc in the lives of citizens, many of whom have worked hard and with their little earnings were able to purchase refrigerators, entertainment sets (television, DVD, X-box, etc) and other household electrical appliances. Many have suffered from not only not being able to use these appliances but also financial loss because of frequent power outages and voltage surge that have damaged them. Perishable items have spoiled and it is difficult to do bulk buying and savings due to the frequent blackouts. Petty criminals take advantage of the darkness, stealing from homes and businesses. This at times results in injuries and deaths of the victims.
Electricity is a basic essential commodity in any modern society. Guyana cannot afford to be left behind in the globalised economy which relies on electricity to power the internet and other aspects of trading. With the global pandemic (COVID19), classrooms and businesses have gone virtual and need a reliable and efficient service to function. When there is an outage those who rely on the GPL cannot use the Internet which adversely impacts their ability to go about their business. In the Information Age time is money and this is lost via opportunities and other forms of networking the services of the Internet and World Wide Web facilitate.
Guyanese have developed a sense of humour to cope with the inefficiency of a service others take for granted in other societies. The holiday season is here and as customary many look forward to an efficient service to make the festive season worthwhile. Experience has taught many they cannot rely on GPL and must take the necessary precautions to safeguard their lives and possessions. Citizens remain skeptical GPL will ever improve and the skepticism is not without merit.
On Wednesday, President Ali in an address to the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) touched on the electricity woes. He must be aware of the frustration on everyone’s mind and probably saw the political value of making a promise to an association that heavily depends on the service. In order for many to keep their businesses up and running they have to generate their own electricity because the only certainty GPL offers is more outages.
President Ali promised the GMSA audience, and by extension Guyanese, blackouts will no longer be a problem. The President should know this promise is time-worn and sounds like a broken record. It is no longer believed because the government has proven, time and time again, it cannot be trusted to provide what is a basic and essential service. It is a promise this publication not only hopes the President remembers but goes the extra mile to ensure he keeps. Guyanese are sick and tired and are tired of being sick and tired of the inefficient electricity service.