By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Abaco businesses have been "left in the dark" by frequent power outages, with tourists cutting short their vacation amid "grave concern" for economic and reputational damage.
Vado Bootle, the Abaco Chamber of Commerce president, said there was "anger and frustration" over a series of prolonged power cuts by Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) that have lasted for nearly a week.
He told Tribune Business that the island had been "left in the dark" over the reason for the power cuts, having received no formal communication from BPL.
A BPL spokesman told this newspaper yesterday that there was a "system fault in the entire network that caused intermittent outages on the entire island. BPL is working to improve reliability and we are in the process of making those improvement to prevent the outages".
However, Mr Bootle blasted: "It is very negatively impacting us because people are leaving because of the extended power outages. Tourists are packing up and leaving the Abacos having not finished their vacation.
"It is a grave concern for us. We have gotten no communication from BPL as to what's happening. I'm in the process of writing to BPL to find out what their plans are moving forward with the summer really only just beginning."
Giselle McIntosh, chief councillor for Green Turtle Cay, told Tribune Business: "I know that speaking with people around town that some of our tourists who have rented local homes have left early due to the power cuts. It is definitely affecting the economy, it is definitely affecting the feeling of coming here.
"If you have been here a week and the power has been off 90 per cent of the time, it really leaves a sour taste in your mouth. We're ready to meet with whoever we need to meet with and try and get some attention drawn to this issue. This kind of thing in this day and age should not be happening, and certainly not to this severity. The fact that no one knows what's really going on makes the situation all the more frustrating."
Lance Pinder, operations manager at Abaco Big Bird, told Tribune Business: "This has been going on for the last five days. The power has been going on and off, sometimes for 12-plus hours. It is island-wide sometimes.
"I cannot even remember how many times it has been off in the last four to five days where I live in Treasure Cay. Some areas of Green Turtle Cay were reportedly out for two to three days."
Mr Pinder added: "This is our busiest time of year on Abaco, and tourists are complaining and leaving the Island. No one seems to know what is going on, and everyone says something different.
"There was also a lightning strike in Marsh Harbour about two weeks ago, and some people and businesses have had no phone or Internet for two weeks now, Abaco Big Bird included. People are angry and frustrated on the Island."