On the matter of TelEm

Dear Editor,

Even though the job I did for years started with the letters poli, I did not take information gathered on the job (people’s ideas) and run with them. I am starting my letter to you this way because I will not take the praise for the content of this letter. This suggestion came from a conscientious young person who is also fed up with the way our utility companies are being managed. Let me add this: I am not writing a letter for someone else. We had a discussion which that person initiated. I agreed wholeheartedly with what he said and thought it worthwhile to write to you about it, but I will not take the credit due to him. Because I am the one who signed this letter I am ready to absorb whatever reasonable reaction it brings.

I believe that by now almost everybody is aware of the telecommunication outage, which TelEm is trying to sweep under the rug by offering a lame apology to its clients, and expects the clients to continue to roll over and play dead. I will refer to this later in the letter. This young man came to me and said to me, “Mister Russell, I can remember sitting right here and discussing, incircleing the Central Bank, the Post Office and the police station together and putting them in one big yard.” At that time we were also deliberating what would be the pros and cons with such a decision. Parking was discussed, and we were of the opinion that because in time the whole Nisbeth Road would have businesses the solution would be to shift the Nisbeth Road a little further in the pond and make parking available all along the Nisbeth Road on the side of the pond.

I told him that that was a good while ago. Yes, and it is because of that idea I said to myself every day it’s something else with the current and now TelEm is blaming GEBE for their problem. (Which reminds me of how my brothers and I would alternate taking the blame so that all of us would not be punished at the same time.)

Because of the constant excuses given by GEBE for its outages, I was thinking that this government could save a ton of money spent on fuel if they would pool the TelEm building, the new Administrative building, the Post Office (former receivers), the St. Maarten University and the police station together. Get whatever size batteries and solar panels are needed and install a solar system that would service all of those buildings and possibly the Carnival Village also and even the Little League Ballpark. And this is why I refer to him as being a conscientious young person. He also added, “They will have to look for some other excuse for those continuous power outages.”

By the way, I would like for the TelEm manager to know that he lied black on white because he could have foreseen that the outages could not be restored before the weekend, but apologized letting the clients know that TelEm was doing everything possible to restore service to its clients. Which was not true because from Wednesday to Friday would be ample time to calculate what would the cause of the outage. Along with that, TelEm knows that 611 for a while is not operational. Somewhere in my mind there was this thought: I wonder if this is a test run to see how things will be after all of those dismissals?

Because even though 611 was not operational and the outlets where clients could pay without going to the main building were also not functioning, still no effort was made on Saturday to restore that which was not functioning. TelEm was closed down over the weekend. People were asked to use their phone to “reset their box”. But if the Internet is not functioning neither are the phones. That is why I dare write that the management of TelEm did not and possibly still not care about the clients.

It is irresponsible and possibly considered criminal, taking the results of certain actions in account. Would I be going too far if I decided that the management of TelEm was completely unconcerned of the consequences of its actions? I believe it was total disregard of its customers, especially in a situation where the customer is totally dependent on the proprietor. Along with that, everybody is promised 24-hour continual service. I did not have the use of any kind of communication from Wednesday until Tuesday at about 10:30am.

I sincerely hope that, our people, old and new, in government will be just as diligent as they are to plan Parlatino trips, which up to now the people have not profited from (I have not seen any improvement) will also be as eager to look for a solution to these continuous utility outages.

At the risk of sounding petty, “Take that Parlatino money and get us solar energy”.

Russell A. Simmons

The Daily Herald

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