The Barbados Light and Power Company Limited (BL&P) has sought additional manpower to assist with its restoration efforts, as thousands remain without power, following the passage of Hurricane Elsa last Friday.
The Category 1 cyclone, which ripped through more than 2,300 homes, significantly damaged the island’s sole electricity provider’s lines, poles and transformers.
BL&P’s Managing Director, Roger Blackman, disclosed that a team from Dominica was due on island shortly, during today’s press conference to update the country on recovery efforts.
“We are part of a group of utilities in the region, an association called CARILEC. For many years, many of you would be aware, we have been sending our crews across the Caribbean to our neighbours who have been impacted by hurricanes over the years. So, that programme allows us to call as well on resources to assist us when we are in need.
“We are bringing in a couple crews from our affiliate in Dominica…. They’ll be here at least by Thursday…. We’ll have that additional resources to supplement what we have; give us greater flexibility on the ground to address the issues that we’re facing right now,” he announced.
Meanwhile, Mr. Blackman noted that electricity had been restored to over 85 per cent of its customer base, which comprises over 130,000 customers.
Describing the situation as “dynamic”, he sought to assure members of the public who were still affected by outages that crews were working around the clock to rectify the problem.
“We haven’t forgotten anyone. Once the reports are in, we log those and we will get to every area,” he said, in response to criticism from customers regarding notifications about the status of work across the island.
“We have other teams in the field doing damage assessments. So, as we respond to reports from customers and we go into the field, oftentimes we find additional areas of work that may be required and of course those we are reporting back in and updating as the assessments are done,” Mr. Blackman added.
He also encouraged persons to utilise the ECI Restore app, which may be downloaded via the Apple iStore or Google Play, to report outages or damaged infrastructure, as this information is critical in the restoration of power throughout Barbados.
Noting that the safety of their technicians and the public was paramount, BL&P’s Managing Director issued some words of caution.
“As we energise homes and businesses, there is risk associated with downed wires and that becomes greater as we energise the network. So, we want to, again, remind folks to avoid downed powerlines…. You should always assume they are live and take the necessary precautions,” he advised.
He also appealed to motorists to be “alert and cautious”, and to reduce speed upon approaching work areas “because often there are narrow roadways in which cars are coming very close to crews”.
Mr. Blackman gave the commitment that the company would continue to provide consistent updates, inclusive of the estimated restoration times.