URCA in southern family island tour

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has expanded its consumer education and outreach to the southern Family Islands with visits to Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay.

Town Hall meetings were held in Acklins and Crooked Island to update residents about recent developments such as mobile number portability and Small Scale Renewable Generation (SSRG), plus work to finalise Bahamas Power and Light's (BPL) consumer protection plan.

"The town hall meetings are very valuable", said Mavis Johnson-Collie, URCA's corporate and consumer relations manager, "in that they afford residents an opportunity to express their concerns about any issues related to any of URCA's licensees and, in turn, they are apprised of URCA's consumer complaints handling procedures".

"We welcome these opportunities to engage with members of the Bahamian public across the archipelago, and to open their eyes as to how URCA can assist them and work on their behalf," said Waldon Russell, URCA's acting director of electronic communications. "For me, I am able to assess the nature and quality of the services provided by service providers first hand."

"We were able to explain why it is important to regulate the sector, and what that will look like for them as customers of the electricity service providers. These visits are important for the efficient and effective execution of our work at URCA because what is important to a community can vary greatly as you go from settlement to settlement and island to island," said Mark Hudson, regulatory manager, technical, at URCA.

Complaints about services within the electronic communications sector concerned:

• An inability to access a mandated minimal five-channel PayTV Package

• The unavailability of the 'six free-to-air TV channels', which is a legacy package negotiated by Government and multiple service providers

• Slow Internet speed

• Lack of service on long stretches of roadways connecting settlements

• Billing for services not received

Complaints about services in the electricity and energy sector concerned:

• High bills

• Lack of street lights in Lovely Bay and Pinefields

• Insufficient locations at which to pay for services

URCA's team will follow-up with service providers and will attempt to have the issues resolved.

URCA will continue its consumer education tours in the southern Bahamas with visits to Inagua and Long Island scheduled for late October 2018.