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Lodge owner ‘can’t deal’ with BPL power outages

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

South Andros and Mangrove Cay residents yesterday urged the Government to “put their foot on BPL” after a 24-hour power outage knocked out all the area’s utilities and Internet service.

Cheryl Bastian, owner/operator of Andros-based Swain’s Cay Lodge, told Tribune Business she “can’t deal with it any more” and is exploring the acquisition of a generator after losing electrical supply when the owner of a leading fly fishing retail and mail order business was enjoying a last night at her property.

Speaking after Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) sought to reassure residents that it now has “sufficient generation” to supply their communities, following completion of repairs to two of its “larger units”, she confirmed that power was restored at around 4pm after going off at around the same time on Tuesday.

“BPL, they really need to do a little bit better, they really need to do a bit better,” Ms Bastian told this newspaper. “I’m tired of talking on it. They can do better; much better. I’ve decided to get the price from Marlin Marine and get a generator. I can’t deal with it any more. I’ve been here almost 20 years I was looking at putting a small saving into the bank and I now have to go out and buy a generator.”

Disclosing that outages initially lasted for only half and hour, or an hour at most, she added that they have now become more frequent and are occurring now “a couple of times a week”. Besides Internet service, Ms Bastian, an ex-Out Island Promotion Board president, said the loss of electricity also results in a loss of system pressure that forces the water system to be cut off.

This means her guests, who have spent most of their day out fishing, lack both air conditioning and water for a shower, which makes for an uncomfortable night, undermines the guest experience and can result in unfavourable reviews for both The Bahamas as a destination and individual properties.

“These guys are of a good nature,” Ms Bastian said of her guests, “but they’re uncomfortable. You come in hot, and might not come back again. You want to come in from fishing and shower. Who wants to be sweaty because the light is down and the water is off. It’s inconvenient.

“I was fortunate. The owner of Orvis Fly Fishing, the biggest fly fishing organisation in the world, he and his wife, they left this morning on a jet” after having to endure their last night at Swain’s Cay Lodge without air conditioning.

“That breaks my heart. You’re putting out the red carpet and showing your place,” Ms Bastian told Tribune Business, adding that a positive review and recommendation from Orvis can drive significant visitor traffic to fly and bonefish lodges. She voiced optimism, though, that the “great time” Orvis’ principals enjoyed prior to the outage would offset any fall-out as they “got a feel and flavour for the island”.

“We’ve got to keep our utility game. We have to,” Ms Bastian said. “Someone really has to put their foot on BPL. We’re paying our bills. This is 2024. Why do we have to suffer so? They have to do better on utilities. We need to do better, much better. I’ve devoted my life to tourism in Mangrove Cay.”

BPL, in a statement responding to Tribune Business inquiries, confirmed that power was “fully restored” to South Andros and Mangrove Cay at 4pm yesterday and apologised for the impact to residents and the area’s business community.

“Issues started about 24 hours earlier when two of the larger units, an 890 KW (kilowatt) and a 1.2 MW (mega watt) genset, developed problems. BPL’s local team worked on both units throughout the evening but could not return them to service,” the state-owned utility affirmed.

“At 9pm, due to increasing load demands and reliance on a single unit, customers in Mangrove Cay and most in South Andros experienced rotating outages in four-hour intervals. Due to the system’s configuration, customers north of Congo Town were without supply between 9pm Tuesday and 4pm on Wednesday.

“BPL’s team was able to get one of the units online at about 4pm and the supply was fully restored to all customers. A necessary part was also flown in from New Providence on Wednesday afternoon, and the team completed repairs on the other troubled unit, making additional generation available to customers.”

Norman Trabulsy, a Mangove Cay resident, told Tribune Business: “They said they have to kind of alternate current between Mangrove Cay and South Andros until they get all generators repaired. They just want to get power up and that’s the best way.

“It’s been going downhill. We do deserve better and that’s all I’m asking for. The situation on the ground is I cannot be quiet. After you hit rock bottom where else do you go?” Mr Trabulsy said history showed speaking about was better than continuing to suffer in silence and only let problems get worse.

“I was minded to leave the place better than I found it. Period,” he added. “I’m no stranger to hearing the words and not seeing any action. So be it. This imposes a very great tax on businesses here because all businesses are required to have a generator and water back-up.

“They have to install these big storage tanks with injection pumps and air locks. It’s not big deal, it’s a few thousand dollars, but it’s a tax. You pay for these services that are high-priced. Why can’t we have expectations of reliable and consistent service because we’re paying for it.”

Comments

ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

"a 24-hour power outage knocked out all the area’s utilities and Internet service.

I recall the 12 hour power outage after the BEC fire and the 14hr outage one of the hurricanes. 24 hours without power and then regular outages over the week.

Not sure if the govt should be lobbying to take over Freeport. The first thing that would happen is all of the utility companies would get double the staff complement overnight. the second thing that would happen the Board would be loaded with people who either barely finish high school or have no executive experience to offer, like Adrian Gibson they would immediately clash with the technocrats. Over time Freeport would be just as semi dysfunctional as Nassau.

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ExposedU2C 1 month ago

There's nothing "semi dysfunctional" about Nassau ........ Nassau is TOTALLY dysfunctional.

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moncurcool 1 month ago

Which is why those of us who live in Freeport would take the GBPA over the government any day, especially when you see what the government is doing with West End and East End.

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

But any sensible Family Island business person should have an emergency back-up plan for power or water outages. Even if it's as simple as a small portable generator and reserve water tank/pump system.

Just saying ........

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The_Oracle 1 month ago

So everyone is forced to eat the costs of increasing their own infrastructure because government cannot run/maintain any of their own (which we pay for), while increasing taxes which in turn increase everyones costs of living /existing. Sounds like a perfect downward spiral to me!

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