…Ministry of Energy, EDSA and EGTC urged to deliver promise
June 8, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The frequent lack of electricity supply in some parts of Freetown has forced many residents to revert to the use of generators, while others who cannot afford sleep in darkness.
It could be recalled that in January 2015, the Government of Sierra Leone unbundled the now defunct National Power Authority (NPA) into two entities – the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA), headed by Engineer Alhaji Timbo and Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC), headed by Engineer Scott Garvie.
The aim of the unbundling was to improve electricity supply to the country, especially in the capital Freetown.
Few months after the unbundling of NPA, electricity condition in Freetown improved significantly. However, currently, many homes and offices have gone for weeks or more without power supply.
Albert George, a resident of Kissy in the east end of Freetown, said his area has gone for a week now without electricity supply. He added that he has resorted to using his generator so that he could get electricity.
“Since the beginning of March 2016, we have been getting interrupted electricity supply. Sometimes the current is so low that it cannot effectively illuminate our bulb at night. As I’m speaking to you now, most of my home appliances have been destroyed as a result of low voltage electricity supply,” he said.
He noted that sometimes, the light comes and goes within an hour.
“This is a worrying situation because I am spending more money on fuel than before. The electricity situation in Freetown is nothing good to write home about. We want the authorities of the Ministry of Energy to explain to us what has gone wrong after several promises were made to us during the unbundling of NPA. We knew about the 10 days maintenance of Bumbuna because we heard it on the radio, but the 10 days are long overdue. We are now expecting the light system to be stable but the situation is even worse than before,” he said.
A trader in the Portee community, Adama Kargbo, who sells locally prepared soft drinks and ginger beer, said most of the drinks in her refrigerator have gone bad as a result of the power outage in that part of the capital, Freetown.
“If the soft drinks in the refrigerator are not cold, no customer would want to buy them. And if I don’t sell anything for the day, it means I have lost a lot because all of us feed on what we sell,” she said and claimed that electricity is frequently supplied to certain communities where top government officials live, while areas populated by the masses are neglected.
Mohamed Bah, a trader at Edwards Street, his area had gone for four days without electricity supply and that few bundles of sachet water he had put into the refrigerator remain hot as a result of no electricity supply.
“The business I do cannot go without electricity supply. If there is no light for two days, I cannot make any profit. So we are therefore calling on the government to address it before the situation gets worse,” he appealed.
However, Public Relations Officer of EDSA, Sahr Nepor denied any power outage in Freetown because as far he was concerned, residents of the city were receiving 20 hours of electricity supply daily.
“Some communities are not getting electricity supply due to faulty transformers. Plans are underway to get new transformers so as to replace the faulty ones,” he said.
He disclosed that EGTC and not EDSA was charged with generating electricity, adding that whatever they get from EGTC was what they evenly distribute to their customers.
He disclosed that the EGTC also depend on the Bumbuna hydro dam for electricity generation, but that low water level poses challenges.
“In fact, to salvage the situation, EDSA has taken upon itself to contract a Ghanaian company called Aggreko to make available 20 megawatts electricity supply to Freetown. 10 megawatts for the Black Hall Road power station and another 10mw for Wellington,” he explained.
He added that EDSA has also contracted another company, which he did not name, to salvage the electricity problem in Bo.
Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Ahmed Fonike Bangura said his ministry only provides a supervisory role to EDSA and EGTC. He also denied that there had been frequent power outage in Freetown as many residents claim, but insisted they are working very hard to improve on power supply to a city of approximately two million residents.