Contractor’s error causes three-day South Bimini outage

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

[email protected]

Second homeowners yesterday said they were “rethinking our winter plans” after South Bimini was left without electricity for three days when a contractor cut Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) cable.

BPL, in a statement responding to Tribune Business inquiries, blamed a Water & Sewerage Corporation contractor for “damaging” the undersea cables that serve south Bimini when it started dredging activities on Saturday without the utility’s knowledge.

The state-owned energy monopoly added that while power was “quickly restored to north Bimini”, the southern island was left without power. While a BPL technician who arrived on Sunday was able to restore supply to parts of south Bimini, BPL said full power to both islands was only restored at 2pm yesterday.

“A joint exercise between Water & Sewerage and a third party took place on Saturday, without the knowledge of BPL, to dredge in the harbour in the vicinity of the South Bimini ferry dock to locate and unearth a broken waterline,” BPL said.

“During the works, the main BPL subsea feeder cables that supply power to south Bimini were damaged. Power on north and south Bimini was interrupted because of the incident. While we were able to quickly restore power to north Bimini, the damaged cables meant south Bimini was left without power.

“A technician was flown into Bimini on Sunday morning , and a temporary solution was put in place to restore power to some portions of south Bimini until the cables were repaired,” BPL added.

“Technicians worked tirelessly through the day and night to locate all damaged portions of the two sub-sea cables. Once all damaged portions were located and identified, the repair process began and was completed around 2pm today. Full power has been restored to north and south Bimini.”

Quincy Parker, BPL’s spokesperson, while confirming the incident initially told this newspaper that south Bimini was only experiencing “occasional outages” as opposed to a complete loss of power. “The short version is that, yes, a private sector entity doing work cut BPL’s cable,” he added.

“We were able to back feed customers in south Bimini. It’s not true to say they were without power for three days. What is true is they were experiencing occasional outages while we reconfigured the system to prepare for repairs to be made, and once they were completed they had to switch back to normal.

“Once the damage was done they were able to get north Bimini back up immediately, but with south Bimini there were some complications as they had to do some back feeding.”

One south Bimini second homeowner, speaking of condition of anonymity, said the absence of power and water at their complex either sent residents and renters back to the US or to the Bimini Big Game resort on the northern island.

“It’s been off since Saturday,” they said of BPL’s service. “I don’t need the Government for anything except to keep the power on, and they cannot even do that. When is enough enough? Do you see any change with this government? Is COVID going to force it to change, or is it going to be the same old, same old?

“I love The Bahamas, and have been going there for 25 years, but the creature comforts of life – water, power and Internet – I expect those things, and I can’t expect those things in The Bahamas. We were planning on staying from December to March, and are rethinking that now. I’m tired of the fight for basics, life’s too short and there are other places to go.”

Neal Watson, owner of Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Centre, said of the power outage: ā€œIā€™m not on South Bimini now but the electricity was off as of this morning. The power has been off for a couple of days now.

“I think they were dredging out the ferry dock, and I think they may have cut the line that runs from north to south while they were dredging, because all of the power comes from the north. I believe they still have to repair that line.ā€

Cleola Pinder, island administrator for Bimini, said: “BPL (Bahamas Power & Light) provided maintenance services on south Bimini on Sunday, and so they were off for most of the day. However, on Monday a major cable was hit due to dredging and south Bimini remained without power until today.

“BPL confirmed that the maintenance crew was working around the clock to get power restored, and South Bimini should have power within the next 30 minutes.ā€

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