STEALING ELECTRICITY,a kind of Russian roulette.

Stealing is common in every country, but in Guyana it has become a habitual practice for some who believe that the only way for them to survive is to steal from others. Many, particularly the poor, steal to survive, but the rich steal to maintain their lavish lifestyle and to become wealthier. Stealing from the government has become a major issue, especially the stealing of electricity from Guyana Power and Light (GPL). That has become commonplace. When caught, a bribe is offered and the illegal practice continues.
The stealing of electricity is widespread, mainly in the rural areas of the country where there is hardly any proper monitoring of the system. It has placed GPL between a rock and a hard place, because the company does not have the wherewithal to put an end to this lawlessness. In fact, a report issued about a year ago stated that electricity theft along with line losses was costing GPL tens of millions per month.
Based on data which we cannot validate, it is estimated that more than 50,000 homes and about 20 percent of businesses are benefiting from the stealing of electricity. The general public is fully aware that the stealing of electricity is a crime, but that does not seem to deter those individuals who willingly engage in a kind of Russian roulette. They believe that if or when they are caught they can probably convince the authorities not to charge them, or they are likely to issue a bribe to the individual or crew who made the discovery.
Some have rationalized the stealing of electricity with that of corruption by public officials. They have not seen anything wrong with stealing a little electricity, especially when persons in high public office have been getting away with much worse. But the fact that the stealing of electricity continues is indicative of a much deeper problem which successive governments have ignored over the years. It is total disregard for the law and the misguided belief among many people that there is nothing wrong with taking and utilizing property of others without their consent.
Therefore, the first reaction from people who are caught breaking the law is that the authorities should give them a break and not prosecute them. It is this kind of illogical thinking that has spawned socially deviant practices across the country, including armed robbery, murder, squatting and the reckless and drunk driving on the highways that has led to an increase in traffic fatalities.
GPL officials are frustrated by the level and persistence of the problem and have embarked on an intense and aggressive campaign to charge and prosecute offenders. While the legal process will be playing out in the courts, the stealing of electricity continues. Regardless of anyone’s socio-economic position or status in society, it is illegal to steal. People must know that if they break the law they will be punished, not only for stealing electricity from GPL, but for everything else, including corruption, because the most effective deterrent to crime is the fear of being caught, successfully prosecuted and jailed.
GPL and the powers that be must spend the time and resources on a problem that is the bane of our existence. However, asking all law-abiding citizens to report electricity theft will not solve the problem. It is like asking anyone with information on criminals that can help the police to arrest them. In the past, most have not complied with the request because it is not the culture of Guyanese to report on their neighbours or friends.
The truth is, if GPL is to make any significant headway in dealing with the stealing of electricity by errant clients, then it cannot rely on informers, it must implement a proper monitoring system.[Courtesy:KAIETEUR Editorial]

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