A plan for short term and longer-term plans to make the island’s power supply more resilient and sustainable was shared today by the government.
Governor Sarah Tucker and the Government of Montserrat released a joint statement on Monday regarding the recent telecommunication challenges and the ongoing power generation crisis.
“It has been a difficult few days for everyone on Montserrat, with the fibre cable being damaged in Antigua and then separately generator failures at MUL. We would first like to acknowledge how hard the teams at Southern Caribbean Fibre, D.I.T.E.S, MUL, MCWL, the Governor’s Office, private contractors and DMCA have been working, and continue to do so, to take corrective action,” the statement credited to Governor Tucker, Premier Joseph Farrell and Deputy Premier and Minister of Communications & Energy Dr. Samuel Joseph began.
“The Governor’s Office, Office of the Premier and MCWL continues to work together with all parties to seek a way forward,” it continued.
“On the cable, we were fortunate that Southern Caribbean Fibre were able to reroute Montserrat via Guadeloupe, which has resulted in the majority of our communications quickly back up and running. Our thanks to Digicel and Flow for keeping people updated and working quickly to ensure we are connected. The ship is now in Antigua and undertaking repairs to the main cable, and we will swap back once that is resolved. We have commissioned D.I.T.E.S to prepare a paper for Cabinet, to ensure moving forward, we have sufficient resilience in place with a back-up route.”
Montserrat was plunged into darkness last Monday and has been dealing with erratic power and an inconvenient loadshedding schedule which has left businesses grappling with loss of food, and operating hours. Restaurants in the South of the island have been at a disadvantage as peak hours such as 10AM to 2PM and 6PM to 10PM have been given to the North. Several of them have opted to close indefinitely as they incurred huge costs to food supplies.
The statement said that the power issue has been a “more challenging environment. Ageing generators have failed and the team at MUL, despite their very best efforts, have not been able to make repairs or get parts quickly.
“We continue to operate on one Generator and load shedding until we have more power available. Our thanks to everyone for their patience and pragmatic approach to the challenges this brings. Our approach is clear, first to stabilise the power supply, then build in medium term resilience to enable time to ensure the longer term more sustainable power supply,” read the release.
“Today, Monday 24th July, we will have additional engineering support (from BVI) arriving, and a further specialist on Wednesday. These engineers will provide support and resilience to MUL, and collectively should be able to get number Six generator back up before the end of the week. Spare parts are being sourced for a further generator fix. Once located we will expedite delivery to enable number three generator to operate. These actions will remove the need for load shedding,” added the statement.
“We have asked MUL, supported by the PMO, to source a backup generator that we can lease, to bring some resilience. We are expecting a number of proposals today and will move quickly with the support of Ministry of Finance to get this in place. Once this is in place, we can take number seven off for service, which is currently overdue.”
“The new GENSET: the PMO is expediting delivery and we expect it to be commissioned and on line by November. We will undertake a full review to assess what is needed to ensure power is sustained. As a territory, we want to move to greener energy but to do so, we need to stabilise the current energy supply. We will take steps to do this. There will be a cost implication and it will involve some challenging decisions, but prioritisation of use of funding is essential,” continued the release.
Load shedding schedules will continue to be issued by MUL and MCW until the power has been stabilised.
Health and Safety
The public is advised to be careful with food. “…cook things thoroughly, use dried or fresh foods where possible, and refrain from opening your fridge/freezer when you do not have power.
“The Ministry of Health continues to give good advice, please do follow them on Facebook and listen on ZJB.
“We recognise that individuals and businesses are having challenges; there will be a meeting tomorrow of the National Advisory Council, this will be part of the discussions.
“Finally, we would like to thank everyone on Island, for your patience during this challenging time. Please know that everyone involved is working incredibly hard together as a team, to find sustainable solutions,” read the statement.
According to the release, the next update will be issued on Wednesday.