Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Ambergris Caye in darkness as power outage goes in to the eleventh hour



San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, has been without electricity since 10:20 AM today when an unplanned power outage affected the entire island on Wednesday, May 1st. It has been over ten hours without power, and islanders may need to wait several more hours before service is restored. The primary provider, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), said the extended power outage is due to a critical failure of a major component of a single transformer in their Maskall Substation on the mainland. Currently, BEL personnel are working to install a mobile substation transformer to replace the damaged equipment and restore power to Ambergris Caye.

The issues with the power outages on the island have increased recently, and BEL attributes the problem to difficulties in obtaining energy purchased from Mexico. They assured Belizeans that the company would provide uninterrupted power while they resolved the issue. However, the unexpected power outage on Wednesday required the mobilization of BEL’s Westlake Substation at Mile 8 of the George Price Highway to replace the damaged equipment at Maskall. The latest update for the power supply to Ambergris Caye is approximately 12:30AM on May 2nd.

BEL’s Westlake Substation mobilized

Ambergris Caye residents and stakeholders affected

On Ambergris Caye, small businesses are affected by the blackout. Some companies could not open as their services rely on electricity. Some stakeholders are concerned as they have lost capital invested in products that need constant refrigeration. Other businesses, like grocery shops, remain open, and a few operate with small generators. Most large hotels and restaurants use generators to provide a place for those looking for a meal or a cold drink.

Local authorities advise residents and police increase surveillance

Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez said many islanders are affected by the extended power outage and hopes that after replacing the damaged transformer in Maskall, the power supply returns to normalcy. The Mayor said he is in touch with BEL and following the updates. He also advised islanders to stay tuned to official information from BEL. Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez advised islanders to be mindful of their safety and the well-being of others during this power crisis. He also advised people to check and disconnect their appliances to avoid any potential power surge when electricity is restored. “At the same time, any lamps, candles and any other method of lighting or fire to cook should be used with caution,” said Perez.

The San Pedro Police Formation also stated that they will be upping their patrols to ensure safety. They noted that their officers are fully active, and residents are encouraged to report any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods to their line at 206-2022.

In the meantime, the Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, the Honourable Anthony Mahler, said they are following BEL and finding a long-term solution to these issues. Ambergris Caye is the prime tourism destination in the country, and these incidents dent the country’s primary earner. Mahler added that his ministry will also follow up with Mexico as that country is one of the leading suppliers of electricity to Belize.

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