The morning of August 20th we read in a local newspaper with keen interest the
statement from the Grand Bahama Power Company in response to the widespread
complaints from residents and businesses concerning the astronomical
cost of electricity as well as the numerous disconnections which
have been taking place in recent weeks. Unfortunately, there was
not an iota of comfort to be garnered from the statement. The
uncertainly, the misery, the enormously high bills and the many questions
remain in limbo.
We need to know why a single
mother, living in a trailer house with one young child, without air
condition or electric stove, could be burdened with a monthly power
bill of over $600.00. Why within hours after another’s meter
has been read, the power is turned off with an outstanding bill of only
$60.00. Is it that insensitive on the part of the Power Company
that it would carry out disconnections on the weekend when individuals,
even if they were able to scrape up a few dollars, cannot have the power
back on before Monday?
We need to know why upon some
disconnections now, individuals have to come up with a five hundred
dollar deposit in order to continue to have service. What happens
to these funds? Are they invested and the individuals can benefit from
interests and dividends?
Is it correct that the CEO
of the company has stated that if large companies, saddled with inordinate
bills, decide to generate their own power, that the Power Company will
levy additional charges on the regular citizenry in order to compensate
the Company? By the way, this action has already been taken by
one large company, employing more people that the Power Company.
It generates its own power in order to be able to pay staff; and it
does so at one third of what the Power Company would charge.
In short order, there will
be thousands of portable generators buzzing across this land in order
for us to supply the basic needs of our children.
Grand Bahama is fortunate enough
to have a host of representatives in Parliament, including FNM’s and
PLP’s. However, to date not one has spoken out in any manner
to address the plight of the poor people on this island.
We understand that the Power
Company has to make money; we also realize that there are individuals
who do not live up to their responsibility and contract to pay bills
on time. However, there are numerous instances where some households
have absolutely no way to deal with all the financial demands in order
to survive with dignity today on this island. In such cases, extraordinary
measures and special compassion must afforded them. As we endure
a multitude of black-outs and brown-outs with not even an apology (usually
just a statement of reason) from the company, we could be afforded some
compensation with respect special consideration for the sick, disabled
and destitute poor on this island.
The Power Company has a monopoly
to supply power on this island. It is obviously doing so without
any governmental regulations with respect to costs to the people.
This is a sad reflection on this sovereign nation where the people should
have a voice in these critical matters which directly affect their dignity
of life. Power, like food, water and fresh air, has become an
essential element and expected right of the people. Otherwise,
tell us to get back to old days of kerosene lamps and wood burning stoves.
This company, which undoubtedly
subsidizes its parent company and others where regulations are in place
and enormous profits are prohibited, will continue to bleed our citizens
and leave them in the dark until we agitate for and attain the proper
regulatory body to oversee its operations and those of other such
entities in our nation.
We call on our government officials
and Parliament to immediately respond to this yet another crisis brought
upon the people of Grand Bahama; it is a power keg ready to be ignited
and will only take a errant spark from Power Company to set it off.
VP Grand Bahama Human Rights
About the Author: Mr. Joseph Darville is a native of Long Island, Bahamas and a resident of Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Teacher [English, French] at St. Augustine’s College in Nassau.
Teacher [French] Senior School Coordinator and Guidance Counselor a Queen’s College in Nassau.
Past Vice-President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers
He is a founding member and past President of the Bahamas Counselor’s
Past President of the Grand Bahama Mental Health Association
Past Vice President of the Caribbean Federation of Mental Health
Founding member and Chairman of Operation Hope, [volunteer drug prevention, education & rehabilitation program]
Co-Chairman of the Bahamas National Drug Council
Founding member and Past -President of Grand Bahama Human Rights Association
Founding member of the Caribbean Human Rights Network
Administrative Vice-President of the Freeport YMCA for three years
is an Advanced Master/Teacher in Reiki training, a natural energy
healing method, as well as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation.
Presently, he is Director of Workforce Development
the Grand Bahama Shipyard. He has received many awards for outstanding
service and achievement in teaching, communication, and citizenship.
Joseph can be reached at