Without Electricity (Montserrat is in a dark place literally and figuratively)

Montserrat Utilities Logo and Montserrat Flag

Vaughn Spencer Barzey

Release Date

Tuesday, July 25, 2023


Fifty years ago Montserrat was self-sufficient in electricity with little of no power outages, and definitely not an hourly occurrence as seems to be the norm these days. I cannot think of any other ‘democratic self-governing country’ (which in itself is a misnomer when applied to Montserrat) where this would be allowed to be a routine part of daily life for the population.

Whether by bad luck, failure to pray hard enough on your day of prayer, act of God, by design, by inability to act, unwillingness, unable to act, stump you toe when you go look for your sheep, what ever the case, whatever the excuse. It is not good enough. The result is that there is a wholly unacceptable situation, which is adversely affecting everyone on island, from the youngest baby to the oldest resident. This could have been avoided, and what is more, most definitely should have been avoided.

On Monday 24th July, there was a tripartite communiqué from the Governor, Premier and his deputy for what purpose; I’ve got no idea. It was the lamest attempt to inform and put forward an excuse, not a reason, I have ever heard. The half-hearted attempt to tell us the fibre optic cable was being fixed, is of little or no interest to us if there is no power to run our computers. Anyway that is not something within the Governor’s or the GOM’s gift to fix. The communiqué stated the “Governor’s office, the Office of the Premier and MCWL are working together to seek a way forward”. I am interested to know exactly what role both the Governor’s office and the Office of the Premier are playing in this effort to try to find a way forward that seems to be eluding them both as they seek it.

Advice: Deal with the things within your grasp and that falls within your direct responsibility first instead of giving platitudes about things over which you have no control. If you were going to give any information at all regarding the fibre optic cable it would have been of interest and peace of mind to know that it is under control, nothing more. How was it damaged? Why was it damaged?

Whose responsibility is it to ensure the cable is protected from damage? What plans are in place to prevent/mitigate any reoccurrence? Those questions might have been alluded to if there was any thought put into the communiqué. Do you think these questions will be answered on Wed 26th I doubt it.

Electricity or the lack thereof

Now to deal with the things that is under the control of GoM and its direct responsibility. MUL is wholly owned by the Government of Montserrat and that makes it de facto the government’s responsibility to ensure there is an adequate power supply 24/7 to the whole island. To that end, the government has failed miserably and would be sacked immediately if I had my way. The most damning statement in that infamous communiqué is: “ageing generators have failed”.

Really? Are you for real?? Did you just wake up one morning and the generators suddenly aged into failure?? NO. The generators were ageing from the day they were installed and everyone knew that. What was the life in years of the generators when they were installed? Have they gone past that number of years? Have you carried out an annual condition survey on the generators to assess their efficacy and if that were favourable, how long would they continue to be operable? It really does not matter how good MUL’s engineers are, there comes a point where there is nothing further that can be done to keep the generators fully operational. Surely there was a sum of money that was earmarked for the replacement of generators, not this year or last, but years ago. It is inevitable that generators will become inoperable/worn out after years of service. Did you think it was just a myth? Sorry to have to enlighten you so abruptly (WTFU)(Wake TFUp)

No one is at all interested in the totally useless facts used to detract us from the crux of the matter. No one is interested in whether No1 or No2 or No9 or No7 works. Don’t you get it? We just want ELECTRICITY whichever one works. Your inability to get any of them to work is testament to the state of disrepair into which you have allowed them to fall. Aren’t you even just a little embarrassed that you have failed to plan to replace “The ageing generators.” as you put it, before they actually failed completely? You have cost the population an untold amount of suffering, stress and financial hardship totally unnecessarily, and to which you seem to be utterly oblivious. There seems to be no recompense to anyone for the damage you have caused. Why not?

To then come out with your insulting platitudes such as, “thank you for your patience” We are not being patient. We are just resigned to your total incompetence and lack of appreciation of the impact you are having on the whole population. Not to mention, “Please do take care with food, cook things thoroughly”. We don’t need you to tell us how to cook, we are all quite capable of cooking to our liking, if only we were able to cook on our ELECTRIC stove we would. Where the hell did that revelation have its genesis? In the corridors of government or elsewhere? Please keep your unwelcome platitudes to yourselves and give us electricity.

We would be happy to tell you directly if we were being patient or how we were unable to cook because we had no electricity for our electric cooker to work, but alas you’ve banned What’s on Your Mind from being broadcast on ZJB so we are not able to tell you directly how grateful we are, and what a good job you are all doing. We wait in suspended animation for the earth shattering good news that is promised for Wednesday 26 July, I am sure we are going to be told that, as from Friday 28th July we will have no more outages for the rest of the year and all the problems with electricity are over. We will all be eternally grateful I’m sure.

In the skilfully crafted communiqué issued on Monday 24 July, there was a section entitled “Short Term” but conspicuous by its absence there was no LONG TERM Plan. Was that deliberate? Or was it a perpetuation of your incompetence? Like everything else, I guess we are just going to have to wait and see. Which is not at all unusual for the administration of our beautiful island.

Now is the time to demonstrate that you did not fall victim to the knife in the corridors of power where eunuchs prevail, and you can act in the interest of the people of Montserrat, which I accept might be alien to your instinct, and remove all duty from solar panels, wind turbines, and conventional generators, in view of the fact that you are unable, unwilling or just too incompetent to supply power reliably. Removing the need to go to LEGCO to get permission for anyone wanting to be self-sufficient in electricity must be by now blindingly obvious to you. Isn’t it?

Vaughn Spencer Barzey


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