The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority, URCA, returned to Eleuthera in late February, this time to the communities of Governor’s Harbour and Rock Sound, to reinforce its message of consumer protection. The organization led by senior members of its management team is pushing full steam ahead to ensure that potential investors in the sectors regulated by URCA are educated about the licensing requirements and other operational guidelines. Most importantly though, the educational tour was designed to help consumers fully understand URCA’s role in setting service standards and ensuring that
customers are able to receive consistent quality service.
While speaking at two town hall meetings, one in Governor’s Harbour and the other in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, outgoing CEO, Stephen Bereaux reiterated to those in attendance and those listening via social media, that URCA is a critical resource available to the average consumer and encouraged the public to reach out to URCA and insist that their rights as consumers are being heard and protected. “We must ensure that residents throughout the country feel connected to URCA and understand our role,” he explained. “In particular, we want residents and business persons to know that we are here to protect them and regulate services they are paying for. If there are issues, they have recourse and they need to use it.” Another key objective of the Eleuthera meetings was to share with residents the proposed amendments to the rules which govern broadcast content and consumer protection rules for both the electronic communications and electricity sectors. URCA has suggested changes to the Advertising, Political Broadcasts, and Complaints handling sections of the broadcast rules.
The addition of the electricity sector to the consumer protection regulations is among a series of proposed changes to that document. Residents in attendance and those viewing by social media also had an opportunity to hear about URCA’s proposed 2020 plans. “Visiting at least six islands is a major part of our 2020 plans,” said Mavis Johnson-Collie, URCA’s Corporate & Consumer Relations Manager. “We are a people separated by water, New Providence consumers have much more access to URCA and its personnel. We want residents throughout The Bahamas to see us as their ‘security guards’ in the regulated sectors; that we are here to listen, to take complaints, to help fix those issues we can, and to learn of those ‘pockets’ of service issues in the communities.” Also speaking at the Town Hall meetings was URCA’s Dir. of Electronic Communications, himself a veteran Broadcaster, Carlton Smith.
He highlighted URCA’s work with Hurricane disaster preparedness and
working with service providers to ensure a more strengthened infrastructure to sustain and resist significant damage that occurs during devastating storms. Shevonn Cambridge, URCA’s Director of Utilities & Energy spoke on one of URCA’s most inexhaustible subjects: ‘power’, and the utilization of renewable energy, and the proper use of generators. “On the islands, we often hear of issues about power outages and possible appliance damage that may be related to the inconsistent supply of power,” he noted. “What we need residents to do is note the time, length, and date of issues, and log it so we can investigate and try to bring relief to residents.