Dear Editor,

Readers would recall that I had done an assessment of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), based on the entity’s available annual reports, the national budget speeches, and their expansion plans, which were published in the February 5th edition of the Stabroek News. Recall, too, that I had argued that there are credible reasons to believe that the President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali is being misled about issues in relation to GPL.

This was a report that I had done since November 2023, during the height of the blackout spree, that was published in February 2024. In that report, I had concretely established that the deterioration of GPL’s managerial performance actually began since 2013. In this respect, GPL failed to produce annual reports, which ought to have been laid over to the National Assembly pursuant to Section 67 (1) of the Public Corporations Act (1988) for the years 2013-2022/23. Resultantly, it was difficult to independently scrutinize the work of GPL for that period. Consequently, GPL’s failure to produce annual reports for the past ten (10) years is a flagrant violation of Section 67 (1) of the Public Corporations Act (1988).

I had concluded that the Board of Directors and Management of GPL should immediately ascertain the status of the development and expansion plans for the period 2012-2025 that appears to be unimplemented (these are unverified); and that Management should take urgent steps to ensure that the entity’s annual reports are prepared and laid over to the National Assembly in accordance with section 67 (1) of the Public Corporations Act, 1988.


Interestingly, it would appear that the findings derived from my analysis above, which were placed in the public domain more than a month ago, are impeccably accurate based on GPL’s implicit admission.


To this end, in the March 29th, 2024, edition of the Stabroek News, GPL reported that “on January 4, 2024, a 6.9 MW engine at Kingston 2 Power Plant, experienced a technical issue to the crankshaft. On March 11, 2024, a 5.5 MW engine at Kingston 1 Power Plant experienced a technical issue related to the crankshaft and engine components”.


The question is: what caused these engines to experience problems with their crankshafts? One does not have to be an engineer to know about crankshafts and what would cause the crankshafts to fail. Anyone who owns a car or any type of vehicle for a good number of years would know about these things. Every vehicle engine has a crankshaft. The crankshaft is the spinal cord of any engine.

From my own experience with vehicles, the crankshaft would fail if the engine ran low on oil. The engine, depending on its age, would run low on oil due to (i) lack of monitoring, to ensure that the engine oil is always at the prescribed level, and (ii) failing to service and/or conduct scheduled maintenance on time―that is, based on the prescribed servicing time.


An older engine would require more frequent monitoring and servicing. Drawing from my experiential knowledge, if the engine is burning excessive oil, it means that the engine needs to be “overhauled” or replaced.


This brings me to the million-dollars question. Last year, GPL expended a whopping G$6 billion to purchase seventeen (17), second-hand generator sets as part of the temporary solution to meet the shortfall in generation capacity. There were few engagements between GPL’s top management and several private sector associations―that I am a part of but was not part of those engagements since only the executives for those organizations participated. Following those engagements, however, I had posed a number of critical questions in relation to the purchase of those generator sets, that remained unanswered to date, and that ruffled some feathers. At that time, it was not reported that the generator-sets were “second-hand” equipment.


I had asked two critical questions: (i) why are we purchasing generator sets at such an exorbitant cost, when the gas-to-energy and hydropower projects are in the pipeline? Did GPL consider other options, for example, leasing the equipment at a fraction of the cost, and (ii) why we had to import these generators from foreign suppliers, why not local suppliers that could have supplied the generators, at maybe a fraction of the cost as well and/or enter into a leasing contract? It would have only made sense, to me, to import if it was imported directly from the manufacturer. But this was not the case since these are secondhand equipment.


In my professional view, I strongly believed that the purchase of those generators was a bad decision, and that GPL could have very well leased the generator sets from a local supplier at a fraction of the cost. It raises the question whether there were any cost-benefit and options analyses conducted to inform the decision-making process. These are all unanswered questions and questions that I would have put to the GPL top management had I been part of those engagements that they had with the private sector.


It is an excruciating experience having to deal with the excessive blackouts coupled with GPL’s consistent nonsensical excuses, lack of transparency and accountability on the part of GPL that the entire country is enduring. Personally, it is becoming overbearing and intolerable. I work mostly from home, so every time there is power outages, I lose hours of productive time that are unrecoverable. On top of that, I have a two-years-old daughter who can’t deal with the heat at nights. Just to get her to sleep, I have to take her out for a drive every time there is blackout or run the air-condition in my car until power is restored just to get her to sleep. This is the sort of inconvenience we have to endure, at the expense of incompetence, poor management, and bad decisions. It is grossly unacceptable.

Yours respectfully,
Joel Bhagwandin


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