Christopher Famous

Linesmen are stellar ambassadors for Bermuda

  • High-wire act: Belco linesmen Shawn Wade and John Martin get to work during the relief effort in the British Virgin Islands. Photograph by overhead foreman Chad Brimmer

“Cow never know the use of its tail till it’s gone”

An old Caribbean saying speaking of how people take things for granted until they no longer have them.

The passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria have left nearly four million in the Caribbean without supplies of everyday items such as, but not limited to, sources of income, running water and electricity.

Without steady running water, routine tasks like cooking, bathing and flushing toilets become extremely challenging.

Without a steady supply of electricity, routine tasks such as operating an office, running a hotel, providing air conditioning in 80F-plus heat and refrigerating foods are impossible to execute.

In the island of Puerto Rico, it is expected that they will not have the majority of their electricity restored for almost six months. This means persons dependent on keeping their insulin refrigerated will have to either rely on finding somewhere with refrigeration or, in worst-case scenarios, leave the island to ensure that they keep their diabetes in check.

As a sister island to those affected by recent natural disaster, Bermuda has a moral responsibility to assist in many ways. As such, the Royal Bermuda Regiment sent troops to the Turks & Caicos Islands to help to build structures and the Bermuda Police Service sent six officers to the British Virgin Islands to assist in maintaining law and order.

With roughly 20,000 residents and an economy that is primarily based on tourism, the lack of electricity has rendered BVI nearly crippled. Restoring power to the islands is a critical priority. Last week, Belco sent six linesmen to BVI to help to restore its electrical grid. Led by veteran foreman Chad Brimmer, these linesmen worked in conjunction with linesmen from other Caribbean regions such as Aruba, Belize, St Lucia and St Vincent.

Daily, they assemble as one group to pray together for safety, and then go off to their respective areas to commence their tasks.

Given that BVI is a very mountainous group of islands, bucket trucks cannot access all the poles which need to be fitted with crossarms and transformers. As such, the linesmen often have to don safety belts and spikes on their boots to allow them to scale the 50ft wooden poles.

On several BVI-related Facebook pages, residents of BVI have noted that they had seen Belco linesmen working throughout the island. Some even noting their friendliness and willingness to answer technical questions.

Essentially, they are not only serving as tradesmen but as ambassadors for Bermuda.

I have yet to meet anyone who is happy to receive a utility bill. Yet, at the same time, I have yet to meet anyone who wants to go a day without electricity. If you are drinking a cool drink while reading this or sitting in air conditioning, please take a moment to think about my fellow Belco employees and indeed all utility workers climbing 50ft poles worldwide to bring you electricity.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm>/i>