Following a series of successful pop-up meetings on Grand Bahama in December and January, Officials of the Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority – URCA – return to the island of Eleuthera this month. The goal is take the message of stakeholder engagement and consumer protection for all Bahamians to Eleutherans. Combining its pop-up office strategy with a series of town hall meetings, URCA’s Executive Team will focus on addressing a myriad of issues including ensuring access to and participation in URCA’s regulated sectors, and in line with its 2020 Annual Plan, consultation on proposed new consumer protection regulations for electricity consumers and revised regulations for the telecommunications consumers which include internet, fixed and mobile phones and Pay TV or Cable consumers.
“Our mission is to ensure that Bahamians understand the role that URCA plays in ensuring their rights are protected,” says URCA’s Corporate and Consumer Relations Manager, Mavis Johnson Collie. “We want business persons and everyday consumers to know that we are here to protect their interests and regulate services they are paying for.”
URCA’s first of two pop-up offices and town hall events begin on February 19th at St. Patrick’s Parish Hall in Governor’s Harbour. The morning Pop Up office will allow for one-on-one meetings with sector executives. Then, at 6:30 pm, URCA’s team will host an open forum for all residents. The next day the team will travel to the South Eleuthera Mission in Rock Sound, for the same morning agenda and the second town meeting.
“We’re hoping for widespread participation,” said Johnson-Collie, “we’ve planned a very informative session for all our participants and will provide light refreshments for everyone that attends. We want residents to come prepared to ask questions and be fully engaged in the conversations.”
Ahead of the Eleuthera town halls, URCA representatives will be returning to Grand Bahama for its second series of pop-up meetings this year, and are encouraging the local business community, entrepreneurs, and consumers to visit them at the GB Chamber of Commerce in Freeport. During this visit, the team will also offer residents the chance to further engage with URCA representatives at a series of ‘unplugged sessions’ which will be hosted in busy business and population centers. “In planning these meetings, we wanted to craft multiple opportunities for residents to engage with us in ways that were most convenient for them” Johnson-Collie explained.
During ‘unplugged sessions’, residents will not only get the chance to ask important questions but will also be able to formally lodge their specific complaints with URCA as well. “Our unplugged sessions on Grand Bahama will take place on February 17th and 18th at Solomon’s and Cost Right respectively. We’re hoping our presence in these high-density locations will encourage residents to talk to us about the issues they may be facing about services in the two regulated sectors.” In 2019, the regulator launched a campaign designed to improve access to its resources from within the family islands. “In time, we hope to set up a more permanent presence in the family islands” noted Stephen Bereaux, Chief Executive Officer, but in the interim, we will continue to make ourselves available for residents that need us”.