West Coast gas blues
Barbados' upscale West Coast had a hard time dealing with hungry visitors yesterday.
A number of eateries lost hundreds of potential customers, as a lack of natural gas along what is called the "gold strip" prevented a number of hotels and restaurants from serving hot meals.
Most businesses which offered food were adversely affected, with some of them forced to make the tough decision of not opening for lunch, at all, yesterday. Some were forced to open from after 1 p.m. in an effort to recoup losses.
Yesterday's lack of natural gas, provided by the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC) through its underground pipeline, affected businesses from Prospect, St James, to Mullins, St Peter.
General Manager of the NPC, James Browne, explained that the problems were caused when flooding forced huge rocks into the road at the Lazaretto,
Black Rock, last week, and damaged their lines in the process.
"Our pipeline was badly damaged at the Lazaretto, but we put a technical team on the job as quickly as we could," Browne told the MIDWEEK NATION. "When the road collapsed, it almost destroyed our pipeline, too. We had to repair a portion which led directly down the West Coast, and we were able to have service resumed just after 12 noon."
The manager said the job was still incomplete, however, since their repaired line was now propped in the open, and cannot be placed underground again, until the road is completely repaired by the Ministry of Public Works.
Businesses affected yesterday included The Beach House, Tides Restaurant, Tamarind Cove Hotel, and the Jus Grillin Restaurant.
Operations Manager at Tides, Judy Packer, said the service of the NPC was usually first-class, but that yesterday's lack of gas cost them dearly.
"We had to make a decision because we didn't have any gas, and we decided to close for lunch. This business is always unpredictable, especially at this stage of the season, but I know it affected us somehow because we weren't able to serve any lunches today," Packer said.
The Beach House, smack in the middle of the tourist district of Holetown, St James, also had their profits cut yesterday. "It affected us substantially," operations manager John Mark-Davis said. "We don't fry anything. We grill all our food, which means we depend only on natural gas, so we had a hard time. We weren't able to start business until after 1 p.m. today. We actually lost quite a bit of business" Mark-Davis added.
General Manager of the The Beach House, Howard Palmer said most of his lunch guests turned away, but a few still decided to have salads for a meal, instead of cooked food. "There's really nothing we could do about it. These things happen in business, and you have no control over it when it does happen."
At Tamarind Cove, Deputy General Manager, Sandra Parris said they were affected, but not as much as other businesses, since one of their two restaurants actually use Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) bottles.
In First Street, Holetown, Executive Chef of the The Mews Restaurant, Nicholas King was thankful the service had been restored just before 2 p.m. allowing his staff to prepare dinner.