BPL not responsible for tree trimming — says minister

BPL not responsible for tree trimming — says minister
Minister of Works Desmond Bannister (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Works Minister Desmond Bannister yesterday urged Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) consumers to be ‘more responsible’, suggesting that trees and other obstructions on consumer’s properties has hindered power restoration efforts in some communities on New Providence.

Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Bannister described the situation as a ‘very serious issue’.

In the wake of Hurricane Isaias, the utility has faced a barrage of complaints from consumers over the slow power restoration time in some communities across New Providence.

Bannister, however, said that trees ‘commingling’ with overhead power lines was a challenge.

“BPL has a challenge with trees knocking down lines,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of a landowners to make sure trees are not on lines. It is not BPL’s responsibility and under URCA’s guidelines you will see that BPL can go onto your property, cut the trees, bill you for it and put a lien against your property. If you lived in the United States you would be contravening rules.”

Bannister said: “If you live in the Bahamas you are contravening rules. What happens is your tree knocks down a line and after a storm, before BPL can power a substation it has to go along every single line in that area. That is complicated by the fact that so many people do not cut trees in their yard.”

Further, Bannister noted that in communities such as Sea Breeze there are power lines located behind consumer’s homes.

“You have fences and obstructions in areas that BPL should have access to. Right no we have a large area in Imperial Park that is off because BPL has had blockages in many of those areas. They have to go in there, remove those blockages and access those lines.”

With regards to BPL’s decision to continue disconnections, Bannister said: “BPL is tying to be as flexible as it can be in relation to lockdowns. I want everyone to understand that this is a utility that is challenged financially.

“We’re talking about a company that is almost half a billion dollars in debt and needs to meet its bills. We don’t make provisions in the budget for them. They have to be able to exist just like any other company.

“It’s amazing that there are many people complaining about BPL’s bills but we don’t have the same challenges with cable or people’s mobile bills but because BPL is a government entity we have a challenge with that. That is a very serious issue.”

When pressed, Bannister would not confirm or deny whether the company would continue with disconnections amid the two-week nation wide lockdown.

Bannister said: “BPL is cognizant of its responsibility as an entity in this country that looks after the best interest of the Bahamian people. They are going to be a responsible corporate entity.”