Grand Bahama Power Company.
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A veteran hotel union executive said the levy being imposed by the Grand Bahama Power Company is a “slap in the face” to the residents and businesses that have suffered immense losses too during Hurricane Dorian.
Kirkland Russell, the vice-president of Commonwealth of Bahamas Trade Union Congress and member of Coalition for Concerned Citizens, said EMERA/GBPC has no regard for the people of Grand Bahama.
“I would like to express great disappointment and unbelief in the fact that…EMERA on October 1, will implement a levy intended to recoup losses as a result of Dorian.
“GB would have endured too much and this is certainly not the time to talk about putting extra taxes and burdens on the back of the Bahamian people,” he stressed. “GB has suffered enough, there is no more juice to be squeezed out of GB.”
Mr Russell claims that EMERA has demonstrated over the years that it is not a good corporate citizen.
“For any company to believe at this time in GB that residents or customers ought to pay for the loss of your infrastructure is inhumane and wrong. It is totally wrong, and not the time,” said the trade unionist.
He urged EMERA to instead look for ways to lower cuts and not tax the people.
Mr Russell noted that GB has experienced the highest unemployment rate in its history at 60 percent.
“The tourism industry in GB is nothing. We have the major tourist hub closed and there is no date as to when the hotel will be up and running to support this island. Our airport is in disarray, and the harbor is in the same position,” he stated.
“The island of GB is in poor shape and EMERA must not defer but suck it up. That is your infrastructure.”
Mr Russell accused EMERA of passing on all its costs on customers.
“It seems they are interested in running a cost-free operation. A few years ago, when they constructed a new power plant at Peel Street, the cost was passed over to the citizens of GB; the fuel surcharge is passed onto citizens of GB,” he noted.
While EMERA has lost some 300 plus customers in East GB, and lots of revenue as a result of downsizing at the hotels, Mr Russell claims that the company is still earning a handsome sum and can bear the burden.
“There are other businesses on GB that had to deal with losses, and some the loss of families who died. GB is in dire straits and we need a caring company,” Mr Russell said.
He urged the government to consider allowing Northern Bahamas Utilities to operate - a Bahamian-owned company, which has made an application for power distribution for East and West GB.
The agreement to provide power to East and West Grand Bahama between the government and EMERA has come to an end.
“We say give that portion of the power distribution to the Bahamian company,” said Mr Russell.