‘This must be fixed’

The government will do whatever is necessary to address the “emergency situation” at Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday.

“What we’re experiencing today is an emergency situation as far as I’m concerned,” he said following a tour of the University of The Bahamas.

“Yes, the government has a budget, but this is an emergency and the government would have to use all its resources and talent and move money around, but this must be fixed and this will be fixed.”

He added, “Whatever BPL needs, BPL will get because the problems that we face today must and will be corrected.”

Minnis was responding to questions over whether or not the government will provide emergency funding for BPL to purchase additional rental generators.

Daily power outages have plagued residents and businesses on New Providence for more than two months due to a generation shortfall. 

On Friday, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said that BPL did not bring in more rental generators to make up for its production shortfall this year because it could not afford the extra cost.

BPL brought in 25 megawatts of rental generation in June.

Minnis said the teams at BPL are trying to bring more units online.

“I think in terms of short-term solutions, they are trying to increase the number of megawatts, and they brought in a team from the U.S. who are assisting,” Minnis said.

“They brought in other teams who are assisting to repair some generators. They are basically gutting some generators, moving it to others to improve the megawatts, and I think that would resolve the problems in the short term.”

Minnis spoke out on the issues at BPL for the first time last week.

On Sunday, he called the situation a “crisis”, making him the first government official to do so. Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister and BPL representatives have repeatedly refused to call the problems at BPL a crisis.

However, Minnis said yesterday that by “crisis” he was referring to the impact on people.

“When I said a state of national crisis, there’s energy crisis, and obviously the technocrats and the professionals don’t feel that we’ve reached energy state yet with the crisis,” he said.

“When you listen to the cry and the pain of the individuals that are affected, mothers who are caring for infants with the electricity off, that is stressful for them.

“That’s a crisis. Where individuals who may be diabetic are keeping their medications in the fridge and the fridge is off for a certain length of time, that’s a crisis for them. Individuals who feel like it is compromising their kids in terms of leaving, studying, preparing for school; that’s a crisis for them. Therefore, from that aspect, when you look at the human element, yes they are experiencing crises.”

He added, “So, when I say crisis, I’m looking at the human element, the pain and suffering that individuals are experiencing as opposed to the definition from the energy status.”

Asked whether he was confident with the company’s plans, Minnis said, “Yes, I was very comfortable. When I look at what they have done and what has to be done, you can see a comparative analysis.”

He added, “When you look at some of the changes that they have done already, those areas that they have already corrected…and then you look at the areas that have not yet been touched, it’s night and day.”

Minnis added, “We’re looking at more than 20 years of neglect, and now we’re correcting those problems.

“And we’re going to correct those once and for all. We had similar problems with the dump, and we’ve corrected that. Energy must be corrected, and we will place all our energy, all our resources to ensure that we have not only a short-term solution, but that we have a long-term solution so that you won’t experience this problem moving forward.”

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

The plant, originally slated to be completed by September, will not be finished until mid-December, BPL officials said.

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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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