August 18, 2022

A New Year! The same old story; the same old nonsense!

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colin-welch-h1-208x300-208x300By Chris From Guyana Caribbean Politics

It is being reported that the Guyana Power and Light is imposing a security deposit equivalent to the cost of an average of six months electricity consumption on those persons who are disconnected.

GPL disconnects you for the smallest of balances, not simply for not paying your Bill on time. I believe that once you owe GPL $1500 or more per month, they will dispatch the disconnection crew to cut your current. It is no use trying to reason with the crew. They are paid every time they disconnect you; so they have an incentive not to be lenient.

Do not even bother to try to reason with the disconnection crew. They will not be interested in any arguments. They earn their keep by disconnecting you, and there is no reason for them to consider the fact that you only owed a small sum and may have missed the payment deadline by a couple of days.

They have no interest in explanations. Once you cannot produce a receipt from the GPL contradicting the outstanding balance that has been supplied to them by GPL, they will disconnect you faster than you can say, “Ow!”

In order to be reconnected you have to pay a re-connection fee of $3,500. This is how the system works. It is not consumer-friendly at all. It is brutal and unconscionable and the increased security deposit will have the effect of ensuring that poor people who are disconnected would be unable to enjoy electricity, because a poor man cannot find six months security deposit. This is an oppressive burden on the poor and coming from a government that gives Linden electricity at about one tenth of the cost of the rest of the country, it is highly repressive.

If a poor man cannot afford to pay the security deposit that is now being demanded, that poor man is going to be tempted to steal electricity. The GPL by its unconscionable increase in the security deposit for those disconnected, is in effect pushing consumers into criminality. It is not right for anyone to steal electricity.

It is plain wrong, but poor people will argue that the punishment that is being meted out to them for simply being late with their bill payments is excessive and leaves them with little options than to steal electricity.

GPL is running at a loss. It is running at a loss because of high electricity theft. This latest policy, which I am certain has not been approved by the Public Utilities Commission, will increase the losses of GPL.

Is this the change that the people of Guyana voted for in 2015? Electricity is not a luxury. The high tariffs that are charged may make it seem to be a luxury item. But electricity is an essential item; it is a necessity.

A person’s electricity supply should not be disconnected simply for owing $1500. GPL should afford customers a chance to pay their outstanding balances rather than disconnect them. GPL should practice good customer relations. It should not place the interest of disconnection contractors above that of its customers. It should obtain the telephone numbers of all its clients and each month it should send a message to that customer informing them that they have an outstanding balance. Only when this is done should GPL move to disconnection.

The newly constituted Public Utilities Commission should move swiftly, upon any complaint, about the new security deposit. Even if GPL has the authority to impose such a measure it should be deemed oppressive against consumers and should be struck down.

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