Lawmakers caution ministers on signing agreements
March 17, 2017 By Jariatu S. Bangura
As Parliament yesterday ratified two loan agreements for the rehabilitation and extension of the Bo-Kenema Power Services (BKPS), lawmakers have cautioned ministers and other dignitaries to consult MPs first before signing agreements and loans on behalf of sierra Leoneans.
The loan and protocol agreements, which amounted to fifty- three million and eighty-nine thousand, nine hundred and eleven United States dollars (US$53,089,911.06) was signed between the government of Sierra Leone and the African Development Fund, dated 22nd November, 2016.
Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party(SLPP) stated that when agreements were to be signed on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, ministers and others should first inform members of parliament, as most times the public bashed at them when wrong agreements were signed and ratified.
“As representatives of the people, we will not thought it wise to reject such agreements or loans as the country is in need of such loans or grants facilities, therefore we should be considered,” he said, adding that the project should be given thorough attention in the rehabilitation aspect as such was lacking in the country.
Also,Hon. Mohamed Sidie Tunis of the SLPP , stated that several electricity loans and agreements have been ratified by MPs, yet the Western Area continues to experience power failure, thus encouraging the Ministry of Energy and the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority to put lot of effort in the implementation process .
He urged that both the implementers and the Ministry of Finance should sensitise people living along the project site, as expensive cables have been stolen in the past, which led to delay in the implementation of some projects.
He noted that such dilemma should not be tolerated again in the two cities respectively, adding that compensation should also be given to the affected persons long the project communities for them to have sustainable energy supply.
During his presentation, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Momoh Vandi, said the BKPS emerged after the Chinese Government built the Dodo dam in the latter part of 1970s to early 1980 to supply electricity to Kenema, adding that since Bo was just 42miles from Kenema, it was agreed to extend the transmission line of the project to the township, so that the two cities can benefit from the hydro power that was generated from the dam that was constructed.
He stated that the dam was originally 4megawatts but was increased to 6megawatts in the early part of 2000. During the dry season when the available hydropower drops to extremely low levels; he said the use of captive power generation was widespread and imposed high cost of production, adding that the industrial and commercial business sector has to rely on expensive captive diesel-fire generators.
Minister Vandi stated that the two cities have grown tremendously and that most of the inhabitants were outside the power grid ,adding that an insulated power system covers an area populated by slightly more than 500,000 inhabitants, noting that the distribution networks supply power to 10,509 customers in Bo, 6762 in Kenema and 250 customers in Blama, leaving more than 75% of the population area without access to electricity.
He maintained that the strategic relevance of the project cannot be over emphasized, because it would provide reliable electricity supply and access to electricity to majority of the people in Bo and Kenema by the rehabilitation, upgrade and expansion of the distribution networks.
The project, he said is also expected to cater for the newly developed communities with access to electricity, and that the provision of reliable and affordable electricity will promote private sector development and increase economic activities in the beneficiary towns and communities.