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Updated: Jan 8, 2020


Contact: Thomas Sands

POWER OUTAGE ON HARBOUR ISLAND DURING CHRISTMAS WEEK Statement from Thomas Sands, President, Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce [Eleuthera, Bahamas, December 27, 2019--]  We understand that on Monday, December 23, 2019, an accident occurred on Harbour Island which resulted in the loss of power supply to the island. The outage left the community without power for more than two and a half days and crippled many businesses during the peak retail season. As many of you know, mid-December to mid-April constitutes the busiest retail period for our economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. According to Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce (ECC) director Mr. Ryan Austin, who resides on Harbour Island, a number of local businesses were closed during the outage. Those closures signaled a loss of revenue for businesses, and likely a loss of income for persons employed by those businesses. Firstly, the ECC Board recognizes that accidents can occur and would like to wholeheartedly thank the Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) engineers on the ground for their efforts. Additionally, we think it important to highlight the need for a swifter response strategy (like increased BPL manpower) when major incidences like this occur. Also, a number of persons noted that there was no clear timeline given for the restoration of power, which meant that businesses without generators were left helpless and uncertain regarding when they would be able to resume business. Throughout the island of Eleuthera, businesses frequently lament that they cannot rely on the current power grid. Reliable infrastructure is paramount to the further growth and development of our island, so more investment is required if we are going to grow this economy. We have all heard about the major direct foreign investments planned for the island, but these investments will not succeed unless our infrastructure challenges are addressed.  Following the devastating hurricane that impacted the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, and given the Ministry of Tourism's herculean effort to promote the other islands of The Bahamas; Eleuthera is poised to increase its visitor arrivals. That's why it is imperative that all Eleuthera stakeholders come together with BPL and the government in an effort to see how we can mitigate long downtimes when incidences occur. Businesses who can afford to invest in generators do; but let's face it, many of the smaller businesses are not in a position to make such a significant investment. And to provide our guests with an enjoyable and engaging 'Bahamian' experience, we need those small businesses just as much as we need the multi-million dollar resorts.  What took place over the Christmas holiday was unfortunate but I believe that it provides us with an important opportunity to revisit our vulnerabilities in an effort to build a stronger Eleuthera. In 2020 we, the board of the ECC, hope to reach out to the various stakeholders and begin meaningful dialogue in an effort to develop a strategic plan that will mitigate losses due to power outages and other infrastructural challenges on our island. The Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that represents a wide cross-section of private sector businesses on the island of Eleuthera. Established in 2011, the EEC's main goal is to support the success and growth of business and entrepreneurship on the island. The ECC's main objectives include: presenting a unified voice that represents the business interests of local business owners to the local and national levels of Government; offering quality training and educational opportunities through its partnerships; connecting businesses through programs and events; and supporting economic growth through the expansion and development of local businesses.

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