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GPL wants swift justice for electricity thieves

The Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) on Friday announced that its crackdown on illegal electricity connections and diversions has been successful but the slow court system was a drag on swift justice.

“The rate at which cases are completed and the number of conviction however, remains a huge hurdle to overcome,” said the power company in a statement.

GPL said 3,921 illegal electricity connections were detected and removed during the period January to June, 2013, as part of the GPL’s ongoing exercise to reduce commercial losses resulting from electricity theft .

The campaign, an ongoing initiative by the power company since 2007, has been intensified over the past six months.

A total of 111 raids by GPL’s technical teams, spearheaded by representatives from the Company’s Loss Reduction Department and the Guyana Police Force, were carried out in communities along the East Bank, West Bank and East Coast of Demerara, Berbice and Georgetown and its outskirts.

The highest number of illegal connections detected and removed, a total 2,410 were discovered in Sophia and other Georgetown locations.

260 persons were arrested for the illegal diversion of electricity.
 
In 2007, a total of 2,760 persons were arrested for the diversion of electricity. 1,490 of these cases are still pending at various Magistrates’ Courts. So far 549 persons have been convicted and fined with some of the perpetrators given up to 2 years imprisonment.

The Electricity Sector Reform Act (1999), with amendments in 2010, clearly outlines severe penalties for perpetrators guilty of electricity theft.  GPL has been pursuing every case from the criminal and civil aspects with some convicted persons being sentence to periods of imprisonment while being back billed for up to 24 months by GPL.