September 23, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi
There have been persistent calls from members of the public for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to institute an investigation into the activities of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) and the Ministry of Energy for their failure to provide regular electricity supply to consumers.
In an apparent response to the call, Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley, while addressing journalists yesterday at the Ministry of Information and Communication, said the ACC should investigate him if perchance he is involved in any form of corruption, adding that his ministry had contracted the services of Aggreko Electricity Company for six months to fill in the electricity gap during the dry season and that the project has helped improved power supply at the Black Hall Road power station over the past months.
He spoke to issues raised against EDSA and his ministry especially relating to the award of contract to Aggreko for the supply of electricity to some parts of the city, transfer of the EDSA secretariat to a rented building, plans of expanding electricity supply across the country and more especially his commitment in improving service delivery in that all important sector.
“Without Aggreko electricity plant, over 30 thousand customers, especially those from the eastern part of the city, would not have got electricity supply. It is important to note that electricity is an expensive business and people must understand that. I know I am not corrupt because my ministry was the first institution to have signed a memorandum of understanding with the ACC to fight corruption in the electricity sector. Investigate me if I am corrupt,’’ he said.
It would be recalled that on Friday, 30th October, 2015 the ACC indicted two EDSA employees in the southern city of Bo for allegedly soliciting an inducement and unlawfully abstracting electricity by connecting an electrical appliance to an EDSA installed metre.
That notwithstanding, the authority has come under serious criticism as independent media institution Democracy Radio FM 98.1 continues to air damning reports of how EDSA officers are exploiting members of the public.
Macaulay is not the first Energy Minister to have been accused of corruption. One of his predecessors, Haja Hafsatu Kabbah, who is now High Commissioner to Nigeria, was in the early years of this administration implicated in an alleged corruption scam involving a private power generation company from Nigeria – Income Electrics. Although she was not charged by the ACC, she was moved to the Fisheries Ministry, where she was eventually indicted and convicted of corruption, although she later won a controversial appeal.
President Koroma had made the supply of electricity, especially to the country’s capital Freetown – once described as “the darkest city in the world” – a key priority of his Agenda for Change.
But despite spending millions of dollars a month on fuel to power electricity generation stations at Kingtom and Blackhall Road, and hydro power from Bumbuna, challenges in electricity supply still persist.