Business owners lament power crisis

With nearly daily power cuts lasting hours at a time, business owners across New Providence are struggling to keep up with customer needs.

In the heart of the summer, consumers have consistently found themselves without relief from the stifling heat for the past two months. Businesses are now begging for transparency from Bahamas Power and Light (BPL).

Dr. Kendal Capron, who owns the Good Samaritan Senior Citizens Home in Yellow Elder Gardens, said yesterday that the inconsistent power supply has been difficult to manage.

“We have to throw away stuff a lot,” he said.

“A lot of food has to throw away. The people in here are suffering from the heat. The heat alone.

“…Trust me, it’s terrible.

“I don’t know how much longer we can take this. It’s terrible, and it seems as if it’s getting worse.”

BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister have insisted that the company is not experiencing a crisis, but Capron said that this is the worst the problem has ever been.

“We need to find out from the government when this is going to stop,” he said.

“What’s the problem?

“They’re not really telling us what the real problem [is]. Let us know what is the real problem why this is going on. This has never, never happened. I am 77 years old.”

Capron added, “Something is happening and they don’t want you to know. What’s going on with [BPL]? They don’t say anything.

“…The light bill rose.”

He continued, “The people in Nassau are suffering. The government needs to do something. Say something. Come on, say something Mr. Bannister. Say something, man.”

Capron said that his business needs a generator, but it is not financially doable.

“Oh my God, we really, really need a generator,” he said.

“We can’t afford it. We can’t afford it, but God knows we really need a generator.”

Michael Hepburn of Serenity Funeral Home said the unexpected outages make it difficult to plan for the process of embalming bodies.

“My business has been tremendously affected by these recent power outages,” he said.

He added, “Up to yesterday, my power was off from before 9 a.m., never came on until after 1 p.m.

“Numerous families I’ve had to turn back and had to ask them if I could come to their house and do arrangements instead of them coming to my business establishment.”

Hepburn said, “I think they need to come to light and just be upfront, transparent with the Bahamian people and let them know what’s going on.

“…Everything is a sad story, dry cry, and it’s really costing my business here, because I’m an entrepreneur in terms of trying to help grieving families during their time of loss, and for them to come here and power is off, it’s a tremendous setback for me, and not only for me, but for them, because they have to delay their arrangements.

“…So I think BPL needs to come, be clean, transparent and speak the truth.”

Archie Minnis, of Ross Manufacturers of School Uniforms, said the outages are hitting the business during its busiest season. He said they have been experiencing power cuts at least twice a day.

“It’s been affecting us very badly because this is our busy time,” he said.

“We have to get out orders in a prompt manner and we only have a small window before school starts. The blackouts have been something we anticipate every year, but this year has been really bad. So, it’s just that you are suffering right now as small businesses and there’s no end in sight.”

Communities on New Providence have been rocked with hours-long periods of blackouts as part of BPL’s load shedding exercise due to its inability to meet consumer demand.

Over the weekend, BPL conducted nearly four-hour-long load shedding exercises.

According to BPL officials, the installation of a new plant at the Clifton Pier site will signal the end of the ongoing issues.

The power company announced in March that Finnish technology group Wartsila will install a 132-megawatt engine power plant at Clifton at a cost of $95 million to increase the generation capacity on New Providence.

The new plant is expected to be online by October.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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