House reminded of days of generators as Motion on GPL defeated

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ministers of government have assured that efforts are underway to provide citizens with a reliable supply of electricity.

This assurance was given last evening during the debate of a Motion brought by Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill, on GPL. Edghill in his motion, claimed that in recent times, GPL has been plagued by ‘blackouts’.

Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin who first rose to defend against the motion, noted that the dark days are over and  that the  government is working to provide a reliable supply of electricity.

Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin

Gaskin recalled that  for years under the previous administration, Guyanese were forced to live without an affordable supply of electricity and that many Guyanese did not have electricity in their communities. He said the present Administration is working to remedy that situation.

Gaskin recalled the period when businesses were forced to purchase generators because of the infrequent power supply.

“Throughout their time in office it was standard practices for businesses to have standby generators for unexpected blackouts…..but we never saw a sign of concern from them, but now that Guyana is advancing on a green pathway to sustainable development and has made a commitment to the use of green energy from renewable sources, up pops this motion demanding all kinds of long-term and medium term strategies to deal with power outages,” Gaskin said.

“This motion coming from an opposition who spent over two decades in office unable to provide a lasting solution is very surprising,” Gaskin said.

The Minister said he found it hard to believe that the opposition had just discovered the importance of the GPL sector and the need for all the requested strategies.

“While the rest of us were struggling with our candles and kerosene lamps well into the new millennium and well into the term of the PPP/C government, the concerns captured in this motion should have been engaging that government at the highest level. Then perhaps all these long term and medium term strategies they are asking of our government would have been formulated a long time ago and this motion would not have been consuming the attention of this house tonight,” Minister Gaskin underlined.

The Business Minister pointed out that GPL has embraced the government’s vision for a green state and that it has commenced establishing a commercial and technical framework to accept electricity from renewable sources on its distribution network.

The Minister concluded saying, “the dark days are over, the dark nights will soon be over and I will not support this motion.”

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes and Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman also defended against the motion.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson

Patterson reminded the House that the coalition government inherited old equipment and underperforming sectors when they took office in 2015.

Patterson noted that there were no plans for Bartica and Anna Regina under the previous administration but under the present administration, great things are in store for Essequibo. “The whole of Essequibo will be bright again,” he informed the House.

Patterson said  that the government, recognising the need to enhance energy efficiency in Guyana, implemented plans to replace the submarine cable at Vreed-en-Hoop, installed a 1.7 megawatts set in Bartica and provide smaller engines at Anna Regina for improved electricity distribution.

It would be recalled that the old sub marine cable for the Vreed-en-Hoop power station was responsible for the frequent blackouts in the region last year and that Anna Regina was receiving electricity from engines that are more than 20 years old while at Bartica, there were three aged generators which experienced mechanical faults resulting in long periods of blackouts in those areas.

Patterson assured the House that the government will ensure that citizens benefit from the provision of a reliable electricity distribution system. The Minister agreed that more work is needed by the GPL.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson who supported her senior minister, dismissed the motion as “baseless” and one which cannot be supported.

Ferguson said that though there were unscheduled power outages, efforts were made by GPL to provide information to the public on the reason for the outages. She recalled that most of the power outages were due to interruption of transmission and distribution.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, also assured the House that the coalition government will improve the supply of electricity for Guyanese.

Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill, who brought the motion to the House, noted that electricity is necessary for a number of needs including faster and enhanced education, production and productivity, to improve the quality of goods and services and for pleasure and entertainment.

Edghill said that neither GPL nor the government offered any acceptable explanations or outlined measures that can be understood by Guyanese on how to bring an end to the frequent and unscheduled power outages.

Edghill was supported by his colleague in opposition benches, Dr. Vindiya Persaud who said that consumers have been plagued with widespread power outages and this has taken a toll on productivity.

Opposition Members Irfaan Ali and Odinga Lumumba also spoke in support of the motion, claiming that there should be better measures in place by the government to provide improved electricity to Guyanese.

Last year, Minster of State, Joseph Harmon, at a post Cabinet briefing, raised his concerns over the frequent blackouts in Essequibo. The Minister had said that it seemd that the blackouts were an act of sabotage done by persons to make the  administration looks bad.

Harmon had explained that the major problem with the Essequibo Coast was that the generation system there was not converted from 50 hertz to 60 hertz. He had said that the majority of the equipment available is for 60 hertz equipment and this means there must be a conversion to alleviate the problem.

After a  heated debate, the motion was declared lost by Speaker of National Assembly, Bertland Scotland.

By: Ranetta La Fleur