The RA is there for more than nice videos – what happened last Friday?
To small business and entrepreneurs struggling for life in a global pandemic and economic crisis, last Friday’s power failure was another cut on an already abused body. To those in the retail and hospitality industries already suffering before Covid-19 reduced the world to “bubbles”, it was salt ground into the wounds.
The Oxford definition of catastrophe is not “earthquake or tsunami-level event”. It’s “an event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering”. So whoever said that nothing catastrophic happened clearly doesn’t own a small business or work for one.
Bermuda’s vulnerabilities do not require advanced academic degrees or scientific instrumentation to detect.
We have a single network to distribute electricity, which is owned and maintained by an institution that, until recently, has had complete monopoly control. We have a Department of Energy and Natural Resources, and a Regulatory Authority, which both oversee electrical generation, distribution and consumption. And we need all these controls because without electricity, nothing works in Bermuda.
No running water, no lights, no computers, no refrigerators. If you want fintech, you need electricity. If you want reinsurance, you need electricity. Workers’ rights? Electricity. Our grocery stores don’t have windows, refrigerators aren’t powered by need, and card machines don’t read hunger. The vast majority of our economy is dependent on electricity.
So on any given Friday, but especially the last Friday before a holiday when the retail and hospitality industries are gasping for breath as the pandemic undertow drags them, their families and their employees into financial assistance, we should not lose power.
Tourism is already on life support, and the few visitors we do have can now tell of how their complicated and expensive trip to Bermuda included five hours without electricity.
People’s livelihoods, their ability to pay for things, everything that keeps our economy from drowning in the abyss, are dependent on stores having lights and working card machines.
Those are very nice videos the Regulatory Authority has published, but the RA was not embodied to entertain us. Someone knows what happened. The public need to know if someone needs to be held to account, and what will be done to ensure this catastrophe never happens again.
• Jarion Richardson is the Shadow Minister for Labour and Home Affairs, and the MP for Paget West (Constituency 23)