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Getting the hang of it – not!

Belco workers clear trees from power lines on Middle Road, Devonshire (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

I picked up the daily the other day and when I saw the headline, I just had to chuckle. My immediate thought was, “Well, dat ain’t gonna happen. Who they kiddin’?” It read, “Belco urges residents to cut back trees and clear debris”.

How often have you seen residents climbing up ladders or using those big poles with saws to take down trees, some inches from live Belco lines? I did it once. De wifey got on my case one day; something about I’m a no-good, lazy SOB and should be doing my part by trimming the overhanging branches so we don’t lose power in the next storm.

Well, I showed her a thing or two. What she forgot was that I am very incompetent when it comes to doing things like that.

I put up a ladder and started sawing. The branches came down, touching the live wires, causing a massive bang and flashes of light that scared the hell out of me. I fell off the ladder and landed on my back with a thud; the falling the branches caused the whole neighbourhood to lose power for hours. Seeing me on the ground, from the back door, the wife shouted out, “I should have listened to my mother. She always said you were a waste of time!” The only gratification I got out of this was that she had just put a soufflé in the “electric oven” that would surely fall.

We all know the weather is changing; my generation had a hand in that, so we take full responsibility — and for that, we are sorry.

We have had more rain than ever this year, causing a massive increase in vegetation growth; for the first time I can remember, my grass was green in August, but unfortunately with that, we get more branches growing through the utility lines.

We are also getting more severe storms this year and two near-misses so far, and now we are keeping our eyes on another one that could be massive and, yes, as I said, most likely because of global warming, whether you believe it or not.

Now, I said that I take responsibility on my part, but undoubtedly, Belco should as well. It has been its burning of fossil fuel that has contributed to the problem. I agree, not as much as some other developing countries, but it does its part. We see the filth that comes out of its stacks and falls on the roofs of nearby customers. Can you imagine what else goes up into the atmosphere, attributing to the global-warming crises we are having while Belco is profiting from it?

It is time to come to the plate, Belco; the consumers have been asking you to put these power lines underground for many years. We are sick of losing power whenever there is a little gust of wind, and the usual response is that it is too expensive. I am sick and tired of my friends in St George’s telling me they never lose power and reminding me, with great relish, that their lines are underground.

Well, Belco, it’s high time that you put all those years of reaping profits from us into action by investing in your infrastructure, making your service more reliable, and starting an island-wide project to put the rest of the lines underground, no matter how long it takes. What we are forced to pay and the reliability of what we get just doesn’t add up.

Now, I take my hat off to those hard-working Belco linemen who come out in the rain and wind in the middle of the night to get us back on. They are some of the finest unsung heroes of our island, but surely, it can’t be safe for them, either. I saw our linemen out this week trying to get the upper hand by cutting back trees, but undoubtedly, with the next big blow, we will lose power once again.

Why don’t our bies at Belco, instead of saying, “No, we can’t put the power lines underground because it’s too costly”, do a new study on the cost and logistics, and publish the findings? Indeed, the consumer should have a say in whether we will be willing to absorb part of the costs or not.

Come on, RA, help us out here! You ought to be a catalyst for this change — and a timely change at that!

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Published September 13, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated September 13, 2023 at 8:24 am)

Getting the hang of it – not!

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