NOT much is being said presently, or has been said in the past, about the electrical industry in St. Lucia despite the industry being one that has not remained stagnant.
Installation concepts, design and equipment have evolved dramatically over the years, yet we have heard nothing from the Government of St. Lucia to put citizens at ease that the country has the technical knowledge to competently apply, interpret, engineer, test and install modern standards to ensure the highest level of compliance and safety.
Knowing that the industry evolves continually, I tried to get an interview with the Electrical Department at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour to discuss its level of service delivery, customer relations, technical and administrative competence, whether it is solution-oriented.
While I continue to wait on someone from the Ministry to contact me for the interview on the administrative and technical capacity of the Office of the Chief Electrical Engineer, or the electrical department of the Ministry, and on other matters such as whether the expertise or, should I say, advice coming out of the department is rooted in best practice and prescribed standards for design, installation and testing and not on preference, customs, practices and misconceptions, I must explain that the standard of wiring in St. Lucia is the BS7671 (SLNS/BS 7671) which is the IET (Institute of Engineering Technology) Wiring Regulations, Requirements for Electrical Installations. This is enforced, made mandatory by Section 4 of the St. Lucia Electricity Regulations CAP 9.02, December 31, 2005.
Section 4 states that: “Every new installation and every extension or replacement of any existing installation, unless otherwise prescribed by the Chief Electrical Inspector, shall comply with the standards fixed by the Regulations for the Electrical Equipment of Buildings issued by the Institute of Electrical Engineers and approved by the Electricity Commissioners of Great Britain which are in force on the date of the completion of such installation, extension or replacement and are herein called the IEE Regulations.”
It must be noted that the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) is the new name for the IEE (Institute of Electrical Engineers).
Many St. Lucians have been electrocuted in the past, either at their homes or in public places. One particular incident occurred during a national event. It would be nice of the Government to assure citizens that the Office of the Chief Electrical Engineer or the Electrical Department of the Ministry truly understands the governing laws, regulations, codes, standards — such as the local electricity regulations, the IET Wiring Regulations, etc. — that cover the country’s electrical industry.
I am sure the Government understands that while reading a book on electricity or on electrical installation is all well and good, it is much better if that same person can correctly apply, interpret and know the implication of the application thus read.
St. Lucians need to be assured that when it comes to safety, the electrical department of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Office of the Chief Electrical Engineer are on the ball.