TC – Fumbling in the dark

      I’m just glad I managed to finish this column. Whether it’s on time is another matter. It’s no secret that the electric company has us in their clutches, bleeding us dry for every cent they claim they’re spending on infrastructure and upgrading systems. Where? When? How? Am I blind? Or would that be the fact that the power isn’t on long enough to read between the lines?


    I am reminded of the commercials that ran on TV when our hot-headed Prime Minister demanded tax payments from the infamous telecommunications company. (I can’t say I was not impressed by his stance; I just wish something had come of it.) Those commercials were the most thinly veiled threats against our government, and in essence, against us. The mere fact that they ran tell me that big bad utility companies are actually the ones with ‘power’ in this country.

    I mean, come on; running an ad that has two women worried about the fact that, since BTL has to fork over tax payments to the government, there can no longer be scholarships and computer systems for the schools? Or that BTL can no longer be affording to help out charities, etc? Did no-one else see those ads? Who lets these people get away with these atrocities? Why are they even allowed to carry on charging taxes they don’t pay back? Belize provides a haven for other crooks from around the world. Everyone just says, “Here are our resources: take of it what you wish; rape and pillage as you please…!” No one cries that louder than our leaders.

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    By letting them get away with their crookedness, said leaders have also placed themselves in the same group. While the major companies in this country tout themselves as providers of jobs and opportunities (and in a way they do), they also make sure that they get back every cent – and more - right back with their backhanded manner, and high prices. “We need to charge more money for the service we provide.” (Ha. What service would that be?)

    Anyway, back to the power issue at hand. Just this weekend, there were several “Scheduled Outages” for different areas of the island, and supposedly some other districts. For a power company that has the good grace to send out press releases and email newsletters about their scheduled outages, they sure don’t have their shit together about the actual outages! What a total crock! One release stated that the power was to be out from 6am through 12noon. By quarter to 5, the power still wasn’t back on. Who knows how much longer it was out on the block where they were supposedly fixing stuff. If BEL didn’t already know, people depend a lot on power availability. San Pedro is a tourist spot, and how do you explain to a visitor that they can’t have a certain item as there is no power?

    What about the massive power outage a few weeks ago that happened countrywide? When the newsletter came out about how they restored power as quick as possible, guess which area was last on the list? San Pedro. That’s right. We were last on their list to restore power to. They restored every other sleepy area around the country, but on one of the busiest nights of the week on the island, we were kept in the dark almost two hours more than necessary. We apparently don’t have a backup system on the island. Again, I ask, WHY?

    One thing I notice in this country is that no-one really has the proper concept of competition. Consumers are always losing out. All grocery stores are owned by pretty much the same strain of family, which means that of course, they end up pricing everything the same, because they don’t want family to have to compete. Who loses? We do.

    The water taxis were a big controversy – of course the first and only service available was up in arms, because, well, their prices would have to come on down if they were to be competitive. Naturally, having gone years with the freedom to charge whatever amount they wanted, they couldn’t stand to have the competition. After many false starts the new company finally came into place. The prices were lowered, we benefited. Until a couple months ago, when apparently the two businesses got together and decided on offering the same service for the same price! Again, who loses? We do.

    If a new telecommunications company came into the country and started offering new service, would they eventually go the way of the water taxis? (Join forces with the company already in place so that the price is ‘controlled’?) What about a power company that can offer cheap, uninterrupted service? I guess a girl can dream. Because the powers that be who should be monitoring the unfair practices of the big companies are certainly living their dream – while we toss and turn living our nightmares. They’ve lined their pockets, looking out for themselves, not worrying about us who have pay high prices for crap service. They better watch those lined pockets, because the utility companies always get their money back, and with interest!           

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