Molotov cocktails thrown at electricity company building twice in three days
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January 5, 2016
Molotov cocktails thrown at electricity company building twice in three days

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (VINLEC) Thornley Myers says that he strongly doubts that the recent firebomb attack on the company’s headquarters annex has anything to do with an aggrieved customer.

Myers spoke to the SEARCHLIGHT yesterday in the wake of the attacks on the utility company’s building at Paul’s Avenue.

“I doubt it could have anything to do with an electricity bill, because the fuel surcharge is the lowest since 2009, so I don’t think it has anything to do with electricity,” stressed Myers, who added that Vincentians should be proud of VINLEC, as the electricity provider is a Vincentian company that was built by Vincentians.

“….people have a lot of pride in VINLEC, knowing it is owned by us Vincentians and nobody with a bill issue will take such an action,” said the CEO, who described the incidents as “baffling” and “disturbing”.

On two separate occasions between January 1 and January 4, Molotov cocktails were thrown at the west side of the newly constructed annex to the headquarters building.

The first attack was discovered on January 1 by a security guard, who made the unnerving discovery that someone had tried to set fire to the building by throwing bottles filled with flammable liquid, while making his usual security patrol.

On Monday, January 4, it was discovered that a second attempt had been made to firebomb the building.

A release sent out yesterday by head of the Police Public Relations Department Inspector Hawkins Nanton said that the police are investigating the incidents.

“Over the past four days, the police have responded to two attempts by person(s) to firebomb the St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (VINLEC) head office at Paul’s Avenue, Kingstown.

“On Monday, January 4th, 2016, at 12:25 a.m., members of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force responded to a report that a suspicious material appearing to be rubber was seen burning on VINLEC’s Paul’s Avenue compound. When the police arrived charred remains of a cloth like material and fragments of burnt bottle were also found lying on the grass in the yard. There was also odor of flammable fumes coming from the fragments.

“This comes on the heels of a similar incident, which took place on January 1st, 2016, when a security guard at VINLEC’s Paul’s Avenue compound discovered a Molotov cocktail (flambeaux) of pieces of broken bottles and a cloth like material on the ground behind VINLEC’s office building. The odor of kerosene also came from the bottles.

“The police view these incidents seriously and give the assurance that they will be thoroughly investigated,” said Inspector Nanton in the release.

When SEARCHLIGHT visited the VINLEC compound on Monday, bottle fragments could still be seen on the ground at the side of the building, while two patches of burnt grass were visible at the back of the building.

The security guard who reported the January 1 incident said that when he came upon the broken bottles and smelled kerosene, he was a bit startled, as he realized that someone had tried to set the building ablaze.

The building that had been targeted houses VINLEC’s Administrative Department and is also the place where people come to pay their electricity bills.

“People would sometimes come out after paying bills and say they going burn it down, but you never expect them to really try,” said one of the security guards on duty.

CEO Myers, however, reiterated his doubts that the incident had anything to do with a disgruntled customer.

He is, however, asking persons to be vigilant, adding that persons must realize that the utility company is not owned by the staff, management or even the Government, but by the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“This entire country has invested in bringing VINLEC where it was after it was taken over by the Government in 1985. We have all worked to build this company and it is ours and I would say that no one upset with an electricity bill would take such action; this has to be inspired by something else,” said Myers.

He noted that he is leaving it up to the public to be vigilant, as no Vincentian should condone destroying VINLEC’s assets.

VINLEC’s Paul’s Avenue headquarters has been in that location since 1995, while the annex was completed last year. Myers said that if the building was destroyed, it would have put a temporary dent in their operation, as would the destruction of any other component of their infrastructure.(LC)