NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has called for government’s intervention in the controversial saga between the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) and the Cooper family which owns a number of fast food franchises in the nation’s second city.
Fred Mitchell, PLP Chairman, via a video statement released Wednesday morning, called on the Minnis-led administration to interject into the heated row as hundreds of jobs hung in limbo.
The power company and the Cooper family had been at odds since the weekend after reports surfaced that the family had been allegedly unscrupulously stealing power from GBPC.
Subsequent reports revealed that the family had contracted a local businessman, who purported to sell energy-saving devices, to install a number of these devices at their restaurants.
Those restaurant franchises included Burger King, Pollo Tropical and KFC.
Police were called in to investigate the matter as GBPC tried to ascertain if the family had been caught in a criminal act or whether the businessman had duped the family and other businesses and homeowners on the island with an elaborate scam.
GBPC moved to shut down all power supply at the Cooper’s franchises which forced the restaurants to source power from independent diesel generators.
While the saga played out in the media over the last four days, the government seemingly remained mum on the issue.
Even after the Cooper family suggested that hundreds of jobs would be at stake if they eventually shut down the generators and closed up their establishments; there was still no intervention by the Minnis-administration.
However, on Tuesday night, Kwasi Thompson, State Minister for Grand Bahama, called in to Beyond the Headlines with host Clint Watson, and spoke on behalf of the government.
He suggested that the government did not see the need to intervene in the private matter and asserted that the Minnis administration remained hopeful that both parties will come to an “amicable,” resolution soon.
Hours after his statements were made, Mitchell asserted that the government needed to intervene to save the jobs of those who would potentially fall victim to unemployment.
“With 500 jobs at risk, the government needs to intervene with the GBPC, fix the problem, get those businesses back up and running, save those people’s jobs and those businesses can begin to be productive again for the island,” he said.
Mitchell also shot down Thompson’s response as lousy.
“Their attitude, if you went by what the minister had to say, ‘the parties are talking and we hope they get together but it is a wide scale problem,’ it is not the role of a government minister to describe a problem, the role of the minister is to fix the problem,” he said.
Hours after Mitchell’s tongue lashing, without any government intervention on the matter, GBPC made the decision to begin restoring power to a number of the Cooper’s business establishments on Wednesday evening.
And while government refused to intervene in the matter, some members of parliament for Grand Bahama went on record with Eyewitness News to state their concerns that power generation costs on Grand Bahama need to be addressed sooner than later.