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Govt, opposition haggle over “equitable” street lights in strongholds

Recently installed street lights in Linden.

Recently installed street lights in Linden.

Sparks flew in Guyana’s National Assembly over whether government was providing street lights equally to communities across Guyana.

Though the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) parliamentarians did not bring the issue of partisan race-based politics into the discourse, it was clear that the communities from which street lights have been removed are that party’s stronghold while the other one is a solid voting block for the governing coalition of A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change.

PPPC front-bencher, Priya Manickchand asked Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson about whether he believed that it was “equitable” to place lights in communities such as Linden that never had lights and were being paid for by government before while removing street lights from the West Berbice communities such as Bath, Bush Lot and Cotton Tree that were erected there by residents.

Responding, Patterson noted that there are 56 lamps at Woodley Park and Bath and the lights at Linden are on the main road. He assured that the installation of street lights is being done fairly. “I do that fairly and equitably and transparently,” he said

Under intense questioning by PPPC parliamentarian, Nigel Dharamlall, the Public Infrastructure Minister said government would not tolerate the illegal installation of street lamps that consume GPL’s electricity free of cost.

A street light being removed from a utility pole in a Berbice village. (Kaieteur News photo)

A street light being removed from a utility pole in a Berbice village. (Kaieteur News photo)

He noted that his ministry was paying for 48 lights in Bath and Woodley Park.

Asked by the PPPC’s Nigel Dharamlall why the lights at Bath, Bush Lot and Cotton Tree were removed and when they would be replaced, the minister said “if anyone connects to the power of GPL without paying, it is (an) illegal connection.”

He noted that if Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and Regional Democratic Councils pay for the internal lights they would remain. He recalled  that residents in the named Berbice areas had been asked to pay GYD$1,200 per month.

The Public Infrastructure Minister said there must be a 10 percent reserve.

  • Emile_Mervin

    At first glance I thought the jokers from the PPP had a racial discrimination case until I realized the folks in the PPP strongholds had illegal connections, which were removed. The jokers did not speak to that.

  • Charles Selman

    Emile, I would not normally contradict you. But, be real, man. Identifiable communities throughout Guyana are stealing GPL power.
    Go along the embankment and south of it along the East Coast. Whose supporters do you think have been stealing power for decades now? Turkeyen, Plaisance, BV, Buxton, Bare Root, golden Grove, Nabaclis, etc.

    • Emile_Mervin

      1. Stealing of electricity was taking place for years now with the knowledge and approval of the GPL, and the reason was political since the PPP did nothing to stop it, and GPL was forced to settle for constantly pretending to gripe about line losses via illegal connections and other ‘technical’ reasons.
      2. If the government took away illegally planted light posts and legally installed them in Linden, it is not about racial discrimination. Chinese-run Bosai in Linden has never really complained about line losses or illegal connections and stealing as contributing to any poor financial performance. If anything, Bosai once revealed it made a profit selling electricity in Region 10, which irked the PPP because the deal was a not-for-profit.
      3. The PPP did things and allowed things to happen that point to favoritism, so if or when the coalition corrects those things, the cry of witch-hunting and reverse discrimination is heard from camp PPP.