Electricity woes leave ex-Caroni workers in Usine in the dark

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Ex-Caroni workers of the now defunct Caroni 1975 Ltd, living in bungalows owned by Caroni, speak with the media during a news conference on Thursday to highlight issues affecting them. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Scores of ex-workers living in bungalows owned by the defunct Caroni (1975) Ltd have been without electricity for over a week, and want the supply restored.

Owing to an aging and faulty electrical system, residents at Usine, near the old Ste Madeleine sugar factory, said 32 households had been affected.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday at a resident’s home, they said most residents are elderly.

There was a power outage last week, and several residents complained that electrical appliances had been damaged and food spoiled.

They said the community does not get a direct power supply from TT Electricity Commission but from the old factory.

Resident Mahase Heeralal, an electrical engineer, told reporters that five transformers distribute supply to the areas controlled by Caroni Ltd. Four transformers, Heeralal said, completed their life cycles and the factory only had one left. He said the life of a transformer was usually 20-25 years.

A leaning utility pole caused a distribution line to the factory to burst.

Another resident, Percival Corbett, said he had had to buy food and is fed up with doing so. He wants home-cooked meals.

“I have to hot water on my stove. It sent me back to when I was in primary school.

“We full a bucket and throw some warm water from the kettle to get the right temperature, and we have a shower with that,” Corbett said.

Some residents use generators but complain they spend a lot on gas. Others said they buy ice to fill coolers.

Security was another major issue for the residents, who feared criminals would target them.

Washington Demas, former president of the Association of Technical, Allied and Supervisory Staff at Caroni, was also at the conference. He does not live in the area.

Demas said Caroni’s voluntary separation packages included the sale of the bungalows to the occupants. But to date, there have been no sales, and the matter is pending in the court.

He also accused the company of failing to maintain the area.

On the electricity woes, the company’s CEO Lionel De Chi said the problem with the leaning pole, which caused the line to burst, had been rectified. He said the issue was being addressed but could not say when it would be completed.

De Chi added, “We fixed the original problem with the pole. But now we are having a new problem: people stole the cables in the compound.”

The cables were to be used to restore power.