-Residents praise efforts of government to provide more stable electricity to community
THE Kwakwani Utility Incorporated (KUI), the company that benefits from millions in government subvention to provide subsidized electricity to the residents, is now able to provide up to 22 hours of electricity to the community per day. This is a significant increase, compared to the 8 hours of electricity per day residents were receiving in 2019, which resulted in them protesting on the streets, demanding better services.
General Manager of KUI, Leslie Sobers, related that through government’s intervention, careful strategizing and management of the company, residents are now able to benefit from more reliable electricity and water supply, since the company also provides water to the residents.
In 2018, the government had purchased two new generators for KUI, something that was not done in many years, but Sobers explained that despite this provision, there were still hiccups in electricity provision. KUI, which was originally managed by the bauxite company, was not designed to provide electricity to a largely-populated community, but to homes only occupied by bauxite workers. Now there are over 1000 homes connected to the grid and approximately 500 kilowatts of electricity is consumed daily.
This massive increase in consumption no doubt placed significant pressure on the company, and the machinery soon deteriorated as well as monies to purchase an increase amount of fuel became problematic. Kwakwani was then affected by widespread power outages for long periods, making life for residents very difficult.
Even after the purchasing of the two generators, the situation soon regressed, given the number of homes that needed electricity. “For us to be having both generators running all day, every day, is a lot of fuel… it posed a problem to the generator; the wear and tear was faster,” Sobers related.
However, through careful strategizing and continuous financial and technical support from the government, the company was able to remedy the situation. Sobers said that instead of purchasing fuel from the bauxite company, RUSAL, which they started to limit, fuel is now being purchased from the Guyana Oil Company Limited, (GuyOil), which is cheaper and more reliable.
The maintenance schedule of the generators and other equipment was also improved, to reduce wear and tear. The company hired staff to deal with mechanical issues on the spot instead of outsourcing same, which took technicians time to travel to the community. KUI is also sticking to the manufacturer’s recommendations and is not waiting on parts to fail before changing, but is changing as required. With these moves, Sobers said, “We were able to move from the period of long hours of black out to 22 hours of blackout…previously sometimes there were three days with no lights, sometimes there were a schedule of blackouts from like four to eight hours.”
The company is also presently repairing an old generator which will be used as a stand-by generator and a new one was promised by the government as well. Sobers said this is absolutely necessary, since the community’s population is expected to grow even more. “We expect Kwakwani to grow with all of the development happening, people will come back to Kwakwani to live and these two generators will not be able to hold off that amount of people. We are looking at a lot of expansion in Kwakwani,” he said.
The General Manager praised the government for not neglecting the small community and ensuring, through various facets of development, the residents’ lives are improved. “The government is giving a lot [of] attention and I am very proud in what they are trying to accomplish…..there is no neglect by the government, Kwakwani is not neglected. Ministers and government officials would visit often so there is no neglect. We see maintenance of the roads, so we see the community returning to its former glory,” he posited.
Resident, Ann Gilks, also expressed appreciation for the improvement in electricity and water supply as those improvements are making her and other residents more comfortable and safer. “First, we use to have a lot of blackouts, they used to have to ‘ration’ the fuel, but now we are getting up to 22 hrs; the current would only come off from like 6-8 hours in the morning and we have light for the rest of the day. At nights, the community is safer; businesses are benefiting as well,” Gilks said.
With improvements at KUI as well, Sobers said that the company is able to honour its social responsibilities by providing support in the areas of education and health. KUI is also collaborating with the National Industrial and Commercial Investments limited (NICIL), to enhance and rehabilitate the state properties in the community.