Gabriel Faria

Chief Executive Officer of Caribbean Advocacy, Gabriel Faria says the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) must ensure rebates are given to customers following Wednesday’s blackout.

Last year, the Regulated Industries Commission advise that, if T&TEC fails to restore electricity within 10 hours, residential customers are to be paid $60 compensation while non-residential customers must get $600.

Faria, who now leads a group that lends advisory support to businesses locally and regionally, notes that Wednesday’s outage, which lasted up to 12 hours in some areas, disrupted productivity.

“There were millions of dollars lost in productivity yesterday and real financial losses to businesses and consumers,” Faria explained.

“Many businesses decided to close early which resulted in lost revenue while businesses still had to pay their employees. There were also serious concerns about potential break-ins over the extended blackout period. It also resulted in lost productivity in transport and commuting for businesses and citizens,” he added.

The RIC’s post also noted that T&TEC is excluded from paying compensation for breaches of the Guaranteed Electricity Standards for events arising out of force majeure conditions (an extraordinary event or circumstances beyond the control of the utility such as but not limited to, interruptions caused by natural disasters and the failure of electricity generation supplied by a third party).

Meanwhile, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO, Ian De Souza said only some of the chamber’s 600 members were able to operate on a generator.

“Most members were unable to operate due to loss of power. IT equipment was non-functional, there was loss of internet services such as phones, emails, WhatsApp. Additionally, you know many businesses meet virtually now so people were not able to continue holding meetings. Interestingly, we heard from one shipping agency that they were unable to upload to the Asycuda system because Customs did not have a fallback or manual system so they were not able to upload documents so that affected shipping arrangements,” De Souza said.

While many employees were able to leave work after electricity went off at 12.52 pm Wednesday, De Souza said the challenge yesterday was catching up on whatever work was left incomplete.

President of the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Rajiv Diptee, said thankfully, many of its members were able to use generators.

“In my personal experience, we had to refuel the generators to ensure the cold chain management of our stores were taken care of and, from that point of view we were able to manage well,” Diptee said.

However, he acknowledged that there are small-scale supermarkets that have suffered losses, especially frozen items.

DOMA thankful

The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association has thanked the Police Service for the protection of Port-of-Spain on Wednesday night.

DOMA said there were only two incidents directly related to the blackout. The first was at 8:15 pm when a man forced open the gates and smashed the doors at Spiffy Athletics Retail Shop on Henry Street before City police apprehended him.

The second was at 12.30 am when three men removed the burglar proofing and smashed the front door at the American Stores furniture outlet on Prince Street. Again City police arrested all three.