The BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) has refuted recent media reports alleging that the US Virgin Island’s Water & Power Authority (WAPA) illegally shipped FEMA-provided restoration materials and supplies to the British Virgin Islands after the 2017 hurricanes.
On March 5, the Virgin Islands Consortium published an article with details about a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of the United States Virgin Islands regarding a dispute between WAPA and one of its employees.
According to the article, the employee who was named as Rupert Pelle alleged in his suit against WAPA that he had discovered that the aforementioned materials and supplies were shipped to Tortola despite not being approved for the BVI.
He claimed that the materials were hurricane recovery supplies paid for by US taxpayers.
In a statement obtained by BVI News, General Manager of BVIEC Leroy Abraham defended the actions of WAPA, stating that the article misrepresented what took place between the two electricity companies.
He said: “The management of both BVIEC and WAPA witnessed ﬁrst-hand the suffering of the people who resided within their respective jurisdictions at the time and made the best decisions given the circumstances for the sake of cooperation and collaboration in getting our electricity grids rebuilt as quickly as possible so as to provide relief to the people that we serve.”
“For one to now characterise such actions as being malicious or sinister is truly disappointing and a total misrepresentation of the facts. Further for the record, should a similar situation as what occurred in 2017 re-occur, BVIEC would not do anything differently by rendering its assistance,” Abraham added.
BVIEC endorses statement by WAPA’s CEO
Abraham further said he endorses a subsequent statement made by WAPA’s Chief Executive Officer, Lawrence Kupfer in a March 11 article by the Consortium.
Kupfer said: “This was a case where a sister utility reached out for assistance in the worst of times. The leadership of WAPA at the time thought it prudent to assist citizens in the BVI in their greatest time of need.”
“This is not the ﬁrst time that WAPA has assisted a fellow utility or received assistance during its recovery. Power companies not only exchange materials, manpower is also frequently provided to assist restoration efforts,” the CEO added.
Abraham also sought to explain what transpired with the BVIEC after hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the territory.
“Following the historic devastating hurricanes of 2017 which signiﬁcantly affected the electrical infrastructure of both the BVI and USVI, BVIEC requested WAPA’s assistance in supplying it with various materials which were in their possession and needed urgently by BVIEC for the purpose of rebuilding the national electrical infrastructure,” the BVIEC boss said.
“However, the situation was reciprocal as WAPA also requested certain materials to assist them with their recovery and they were supplied similarly without hesitation by BVIEC,” he added.
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