Published On: Sun, Apr 7th, 2024

GEBE: Time to shed inefficiency

This week, during a spirited discussion with a friend who isn’t afraid of bold ideas, he described GEBE as a “virgin company.” Intrigued, we pondered over the analogy. Richard Branson, the iconic entrepreneur, penned an autobiographical book titled “Losing My Virginity,” chronicling his path from Virgin Records to a global empire. The analogy struck a chord because GEBE, our government-owned utility, stands at a similar crossroads.

Our radical friend’s assertion about GEBE’s financial status sparked our interest. While historically the company may have had loans, its current financial state seems to be without outstanding debt, akin to a ‘virgin’ company. Yet, this financial stability hasn’t translated into visionary decisions. Take, for instance, the perplexing choice to convert prime real estate into a mere parking lot—a stark symbol of the company’s lack of foresight and, by extension, our nation’s.

GEBE’s challenges extend beyond real estate mismanagement. Daily bulletins announce load shedding, power cuts and water outages while our island witnesses a surge in mass mega development projects. The disconnect between GEBE’s capacity and burgeoning demand underscores a systemic flaw: the absence of proactive planning and collaboration between stakeholders.

Moreover, GEBE’s resistance to embracing alternative energy solutions exacerbates its woes. Despite discussions about solar energy and waste-to-energy initiatives, progress remains stagnant. The failure to incentivize private investment in solar energy, coupled with past rejections of renewable projects, highlights GEBE’s short-sightedness.

Criticism extends to GEBE’s role—or lack thereof—in crucial discussions about our island’s energy future. While the waste-to-energy project was on the table, the company’s involvement seems more symbolic than substantive. Furthermore, talk of nuclear power as an alternative for energy production, though radical, underscores the urgency for viable energy solutions. However, practical constraints and our abundant natural resources make nuclear energy a contentious proposal.

Yet, amidst these challenges, GEBE is not solely to blame. The breakdown in urban planning and regulatory frameworks amplifies the inefficiency. The expiration of the planning permit process, coupled with stalled zoning plans, reflects a larger governance issue. Without robust spatial management, developers wield disproportionate influence, further straining utilities like GEBE.

In conclusion, GEBE’s metaphorical ‘virginity’ must be shed. However, this transformation requires a collective effort. Stakeholders must transcend short-term interests and prioritize sustainable solutions. Renewed commitment to visionary leadership, inclusive planning, and embracing renewable energy sources can steer GEBE—and our island—towards a brighter, more resilient future.


Next Topic: Whatever happened to the Planning Permit Process and the Zoning Plans that were to replace that sunset law?