Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter
” (Basseterre, St .Kitts) – The “prototype saga” over two Mirrlees MB430 generators that were bought by the Labor Government in 1998 continues. The generators, which were damaged in the Needsmust Power Plant fire of” October 2 – resulting in an island-wide blackout and weeks of load-shedding – continues to draw much attention as to who is telling the truth about whether the generators were prototypes or not.” In a statement shortly after the fire at the power plant, Leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), Lindsay Grant, issued a statement in which he said that Kittitians were now paying dearly for what he considered a woeful waste of taxpayers” money on the purchase of two prototype generators that were no good. “We have argued for years that the taxpayers of this country have been shafted by the government for an expenditure of 30 million dollars on the procurement of two distinctly different prototype generators, representing 6 million dollars more than the second highest bid,” Grant said in his statement. “The inevitable has happened. We have constantly and consistently warned the public about the prototype generators that were purchased for over $30 million and were no good,” Mr. Grant said. Shortly after Mr. Grant’s claim that the Mirrlees generators were prototypes, MAN Diesel’s Representative, Mr. Terrence Burns, who has been working at the power plant since the fire, discredited Mr. Grant’s claim that the generators in question were prototypes. The Mirrlees engines are one of the “most successful medium speed 720RPM engines ever built,” Mr. Burns said. “So the suggestion that these were prototypes is not correct.” Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, in a sitting of Parliament on Oct. 21, said PAM’s statement on the electricity accident was malicious and irresponsible and intended to spoil the good name of the country to the outside world. “I want to make a statement, Mr. Speaker, in Parliament and to the people of this country that nothing is wrong with the generators that we brought in (and were installed) in 1999,” Douglas said. To call the engines prototypes as though they were never commissioned anywhere else in the world and so they were being tried and tested on us here in St. Kitts is absolute foolishness, the Prime Minister said. “The impression is being given time and time again that the generators that we brought here in 1999 are no good, that some kind of corruption went on’simply because some persons wish to have another company provide these generators and the government refused to accept the urges of those persons”you have never heard the end of it since then,” Dr. Douglas said. Mr. Burns said that the Mirrlees MB430 engines had a reputation for being reliable and were successful in many parts of the world including China, Europe and South America. Mr. Grant has maintained along with engineers working at the plant at the time that the Mirrlees generators were indeed prototypes. “The experienced engineers at the power plant at the time as well as the six-man committee to advise the Government of the purchase of generators, with eminent Civil Servants like Dr. Valentine, advised and warned the government against making St.Kitts a guinea pig for the manufacturer of these ineffective generators that have been out of production since 1999,” Mr. Grant said. “Despite the advice, the government arrogantly went ahead and removed 30 million dollars from the treasury on what should have been two generators fully knowing that there would not be any opportunity to buy spare parts only a year later,” Mr. Grant said. “I want to ask you listeners, would you buy a car from Toyota if you know that the manufacturers would stop making Toyotas in a year, making it impossible to get spare parts?” Mr. Grant said.” “Whatever the rationale for the purchase, we all know that there has been nothing but trouble since they have been installed and that they have added significantly to the national debt,” he said. Mr. Grant said that Halva Hendrickson, a member of the then Douglas-led Administration, said in Parliament that the generators were prototypes. The situation got so bad with the generators that Mr. Hendrickson was removed as Minister of Utilities and was replaced by Prime Minister Douglas as the Utilities Minister. Mr. Grant in support of his claim presented a letter dated Jan. 3, 1998, from Mirrlees Blackstone, with evidence that the generators were prototypes. Mr. Bernard Welsh, an electrical engineer, working at the power plant at the time, supported Grant’s claim that the generators were prototypes. “There were only 29 of this type of generator produced in the world when this government purchased the sets.” This fact clearly indicates that based on the World Bank’s definition of a prototype generator that our government had indeed purchased prototypes,” Welsh said during the People’s Action Movement’s Monthly Press Conference at the Bird Rock Beach Hotel. Mr. Welsh said that of the 29 generators produced, 17 went to China and to date have not been paid for while 10 went to Isles of Man which was the testing ground for GEC Alston, the company from which the generators were purchased. The remainder he said went to Indonesia. Mr. Welsh was a member of the bid review committee which was put together to provide recommendations to the government on which bid or generators were most appropriate.” He was also the Electrical Engineer in charge of the installation project of the new prototype generators bought by the government in 1998.”””” Welsh said that the Mirrlees generators were also shipped to Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia, but were rejected because of the generator’s prototype status. He also revealed that Mr. Terrence Burns, MAN Diesel’s Representative, who now works for Mirrlees here in St. Kitts and who declared that the generators were not prototypes, was in 1998 employed by a competitor and himself wrote to the government advising against the purchase of the generators because they were prototypes. “In 1998 the gentleman (Terry Burns) that is now contracted by the government and represents MAN B & W the company that bought-out GEC Alston recommended that the government not purchase the generators as they were, as he indicated in a document sent to the bid review committee, prototypes,” Welsh stated.”” Mr. Grant has called for a full public enquiry into the electricity situation in the country and has asked citizens to hold the government to the promise of an enquiry into the matter made by Prime Minister Douglas in 2004, just before the general elections. “I urge you to demand that our Government conducts itself with transparency and integrity,” Mr. Grant said.
Pam Leaders Maintains That Mirrlees Generators Are Prototypes
Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter