Government parliamentarians last week approved an additional $97.5 million for the Kwakwani Electrical Company (KEC) with the hope of stabilising electricity supply to residents in that Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) community.
This supplementary sum is in addition to the $3.981 billion already allocated to the KEC in the 2019 Budget.
Speaking on the sum being sought, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson explained to the National Assembly’s Committee of Supply that the money is to further add to contributions to the KEC, which forms part of the Kwakwani Utilities Inc (KUI).
The KUI is responsible for the provision of electricity, water, television stations and other public utility services in Kwakwani.
Last September, residents of Kwakwani took to the streets to protest the KUI’s poor quality of water and electricity supply in the area. The disgruntled residents have long been complaining about the poor quality of water they receive, as well as the constant fluctuation in power supply, with electricity at times going off for eight hours during the day.
The controversial Russian aluminium company Rusal previously provided fuel to the KUI to power its generators. However, according to the Public Infrastructure Minister, since issues with the company and employees heightened last year, the community has been experiencing difficulties in purchasing the needed quantities of fuel, thus resulting in persistent and lengthy power outages which in turn affect water supply.
“With the challenges experienced a year ago, Kwakwani’s KUI had to absorb some of these services, like fuel provision and things like that, and there was a shortfall. So this provision here is to ensure that we continue to provide services to that very important community in Region 10; and secondly, that we can give them enhanced services,” Patterson told the Committee last week in his successful bid for the additional money.
As recently as in March 2018, the KUI commissioned two new 260-kilowatt engines at the Power Station. The new sets were expected to improve electricity supply and meet the demands of the community.
At time of that commission, KUI’s General Manager Fitzhubert McPherson had anticipated that the new sets would allow residents to have 24 hours of electricity, a marked difference from the irregular access they previously faced.
KUI currently serves approximately 1,200 metered households. However, this number is expected to grow as the company seeks to expand services to other areas, such as West Bank Kwakwani, Jonestown, New Scheme, and Staff Hill.