Monday, Dec 9, 2019
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Charity forced to close during power outages

A worker at the food bank of Great Commission Ministries serves food to those in need yesterday. TONYA ALEXIS

Scores of homeless and other vulnerable individuals have been forced to go without food in recent weeks as frequent power outages have forced Great Commission Ministries (GCM) to shut down its kitchen every time the power goes out.

The non-profit organization provides food and shelter for the poor.

“The outages are very, very inconvenient,” GCM Executive Director Minalee Hanchell said.

She said no equipment has been damaged at GCM as a result of outages.

However, Hanchell said, “It affects us to the point that sometimes we have to close early because it gets so bad with the heat and everything.

“Closing early affects our clients because clients, who need emergency food or emergency shelter or other assistance, will still need help and we won’t be there because of the outage.”

She said the non-profit has also been forced to throw away several cases of vegetables, seafood and other food items because they would’ve spoiled.

Since May, residents on New Providence have suffered through hours of constant load shedding exercises as Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) attempts to meet the high demand for electricity.

Hanchell, who founded the non-profit with her husband, Bishop Walter Hanchell, more than 30 years ago, called on the government to address the frequent power outages so that charities like GCM can continue assisting those in need.

“I really, really want to appeal to those in authority, to those who are dealing with the situation in all levels to see how quickly, speedily it can be done,” Minalee Hanchell said.

“People are already hurting when they come to us. They go through so much financially, emotionally, physically so they really don’t need to have an added problem.

“So, we’re saying we’re here to reach out to persons who are homeless, who are hurting [and] at-risk youth. So, we need to be able to help them. They need an atmosphere where they can receive. So, please, whatever it takes, get it done quickly.”

On Sunday, BPL CEO Whitney Heastie said he could not guarantee an end to load shedding exercises in the immediate future, describing BPL as being “on a cliff”.

Heastie said BPL needs 250 megawatts (MW) of generation in order to meet the summer demand.

However, it is currently running on 210 MW, including 105 MW of rental generation.

Heastie said the 40-MW shortfall has led to load shedding across New Providence.

BPL officials said yesterday that a 20 MW engine was expected to be returned online last night.

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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