Thursday, Jan 17, 2019
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Consumers getting short end of stick with BPL

BPL headquarters on Baillou Hill Road and Tucker Road.

Two weeks ago my power was off three times in a space of two hours! I can only imagine the untold damage done to persons’ appliances with the power going off and on so erratically. It really is my sincere hope that consumers have gotten smart and have surge protectors on all of their major appliances.

Successive governments have not been able to get BPL or BEC to get its act together. There is no doubt that the corporation has highly capable personnel running the plants, so one has to ask the million dollar question: Why can’t they keep the lights on?

Generators require expensive fuel to run and have questionable maintenance issues. Most major companies make a practice of buying commodities at the optimal time when prices are low, instead of when they are high. BPL reminds me of someone who owns and runs a restaurant. Instead of the owner buying supplies from a wholesaler, he goes to the food store and does his shopping for the restaurant, paying about 40 percent more for his groceries.

Imagine if he bought wholesale, how much more his bottom line would improve.

One gets the feeling that as long as BPL passes the expense on to us, they can do what the hell they want to do, there is no accountability, just increase the surcharge – which is a mystery to most of us – and pass on the cost on to us. The sad and obvious truth is that we have no power in this matter when our bills are astronomically increased, and the only choice left is to pay up or you will be in the dark.This is what happens when you have a monopoly, they can do whatever they want as they have a captive market.

You can see the difference in prices since Aliv came into the phone market; prices have come down and BTC is now forced to be more competitive with its product offerings and services.

I don’t know what kind of maintenance programs BPL has, but it has to be suspect when fires break out and thousands of dollars are lost when the equipment goes up in smoke.

But wait there is more, BPL only has to get on the phone and lease and rent generators, costing us more monies on our bill.

For the last 12 months, two street lights outside my house have been blown out. They are located on a dangerous curve which proves to be a major hazard. I have called BPL at least 15 times asking and begging them to have the lights repaired, to no avail.

The last time I called I was told that they were waiting for the parts and they were waiting to get them cleared. One year later the lights are still out.

I have since given up on getting these lights fixed, as my attention is now more focused on my rising electricity bill, which has almost increased by 3 percent and there seems to be no end in sight as most Bahamians are fighting to keep the lights on.

One of the smart things I have done is to install solar lights around my home, so at least I have lights when the power goes. I look forward to the day when I can become totally independent from BPL and have solar producing all the power for my house.

Recently a politician from Grand Bahama said we can save money on our electricity by taking shorter showers and taking a “cowboy”. Well that takes the cake, maybe he should have given some more sensible advice, like getting more energy efficient appliances and LED lights or shutting off the hot water heater for a few hours a day, so that when you are ready you can take a long and refreshing shower while the water is still warm enough for you to enjoy. I’m left with four words: give me a break!

• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation and two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association. William Wong is a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. E-mail: williamuwong@gmail.com.

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