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Consumers picket Vinlec again

Consumers picket Vinlec again

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A predicted decrease in the fuel surcharge may not be enough to stave off a fourth protest march by consumers of the St. Vincent Electricity Services (VINLEC) today.{{more}}

The local Consumer Association-led walk is expected to culminate once more at the gates of the company’s Paul’s Avenue head office around noon today.

Last week Friday, the largest crowd to date of placard bearing, slogan shouting consumers voiced their disapproval of the fuel surcharge, and demanded that VINLEC meet with the Association.

The turnout caused VINLEC to prematurely close its doors for the day.

At last week’s protest, it was the turn of Customer Relations Manager Steve Wyllie to try to reassure consumers, with assurances that talks would be held soon.

Speaking to Searchlight following the rally, Wyllie reiterated what a press release from the company had stated: fuel surcharges have decreased on October bills.

The release indicated that consumers will pay 10.77 cents less or 54.58 cents per unit.

According to the release, the decrease in fuel surcharge is as a result of the drop in the price of oil on the international market. It decreased from 13.08 cents in August, to 11.36 cents in September.

The release and Wyllie promised that the company will continue to monitor the developments on the international market and keep customers updated.

He further explained that consumers who use less than $100 in electricity have received a $6 reduction on their bills.

“Anything more and they are asking for more than we can do.” Wyllie said.

Wyllie said that while he understands the feelings of the consumers, there is no quick fix to the situation.

However, one organizer of the march, Bert Francois, said on Friday that the decrease in the October bill is just that – a quick fix.

“What happens when oil prices go back up?” he asked. “It is not about a temporary fix. It is about a long term plan to ease the pressure of the consumers. It can never suffice for VINLEC to say ‘we can’t do nothing.’”

As for the meeting, Francois said that his Association has not heard anything concrete about any plans to sit down and discuss the situation. (JJ)