How Residents and Businesses Cope with Long Hours of Blackout
A scheduled blackout for ten long hours affected City residents beginning at Mile two and a half on the George Price Highway. Now, almost everything runs on electricity so the effect led to the closure of businesses as well as at least one government department. The utility company says it was necessary to carry out work on poles. News Five’s Duane Moody hit the streets to see how residents were coping.
Duane Moody, Reporting
For almost hours, most villages in the Belize District, specifically those along the Philip Goldson Highway, and parts of the city were without electricity today. Wires blocked the entrance to different streets as Belize Electricity Limited employees and their trucks were out replacing utility poles and transferring high tension wires. So as earlier as eight o’clock this morning, residents and some businesses lost electricity. According to B.E.L., the utility poles and power lines are being relocated to facilitate construction of new airport road and expansion of the highway as well as to conduct maintenance at Ladyville and West Lake Substations.
Christopher Hudson, Network Manager, Central TV and Internet
“We are here because at certain locations, B.E.L. needs to replace the poles in the same location so we need to remove out attachments to ensure that they can do their part and replace the poles.”
“This is something that is done on the regular?”
“Yes and no. Yes because we have schedule work and no because B.E.L., they are so widespread across the country, we don’t do it as often as we should. They planted new poles along the highway and they are in the process of moving their wires on to the new poles. Once they do that, then the other utility companies could come along after and move the attachments to the new poles and then they just come through and remove the old poles.”
On Monday, the utility company, on its social media page, announced that it had scheduled two power outages for today that would affect portions of the Belize District. The power would be turned off between eight a.m. and four p.m. from mile two and a half to mile thirty-seven on the Philip Goldson Highway, affecting West Landivar, Belama and all villages along the highway right up to Rhaburn Ridge as well as all communities along the Old Northern Highway and the Belize River Valley, from Boom to Rancho Dolores. The other scheduled outage was between eight and eight-thirty and then again at three-forty-five p.m. for thirty minutes.
Before eight o’clock this morning residents lost cable and internet access followed by the blockout. Christopher Hudson says that it is a necessary process to improve the services to its customers.
“It’s a big inconvenience for a lot of people and the company really empathize with that, but it is something that has to happen in order for it to be better. They want the reliable service so these changes will give them reliable service. The incentive in it all is that they get better service at the end of the day. The electricity is improved; the cable wires, well we upgrade as long as everything is in place, the fixtures. And B.T.L. the same, so basically at the end of the day, the customers get a better service.”
The government’s Treasury Department on Coney Drive on Thursday announced that it would not be open for business as a result of the outage. And as we saw today, companies that did not have generators, were locked down. A gas station along the highway remained closed and in another instance, the manager at Econo Diesel says that their landlines and systems could not be used. The company provides parts for diesel vehicles, but Carlos Muralles says that the activity has affected the business.
Carlos Muralles, Manager, Econo Diesel
“Our source of communicating with customers because customers like to inquire before they come and do their purchasing and stuff to save time and too much up and down.”
“What are you guys doing to work around it?”
“Well thankfully we have cell phones. And we do have a backup battery that the internet is hooked up to so we do have wifi so that’s how we are kinda coping for today. Today is slow because of part of this, but we did have couple customers that came in because they had their stuff ordered from the day before. But no other business so far.”
This afternoon, the outage was extended to five-thirty p.m. Duane Moody for News Five.