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8,880 solar street lights handed over to council authorities

…MOE pledges more 50,000 for remaining chiefdoms and public places.

January 20, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

Ministry of Energy has started to hand over the much-talked about solar lights that were installed few years ago in some district headquarter towns, chiefdoms and public places, to authorities of the local councils so as to help provide security for them.

It could be recalled that in 2014, the government through the Ministry of Energy, rolled out a first phase of about 8,880 solar street lights in all the districts across the country. The handing over to the local councils was delayed due to the Ebola outbreak. The Ministry of Energy officials pledged additional 50,000 solar street lights for the remaining districts, chiefdoms and public places during the second phase which will commence soonest.

The exciting and colourful handing over ceremony at the Bo City Council was witnessed by officials from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Sierra Leone Police, the Office of National Security, Paramount Chieftaincy, Local Councils, Ministry of Energy, Civil Society Organisations, Women Organizations and the general public.

Harold Tucker, Mayor of Bo City Council, said members of the public have been questioning the councils’ ownership or legitimacy over the solar street lights.

“Even though authorities of the Local Councils have been calling on the Ministry of Energy to hand over the solar street lights to them, they could not. But when the time is right for the Ministry to do so, it has done it,” he said. He added they will now provide the utmost security for the lights without fear of interference.

At Moyamba, Professor Bob Kandeh, Chairman of the Moyamba District Council, thanked the government for providing solar street lights in the district and appealed for more to be installed in remote areas.

He called on the Ministry of Energy to sustain and upkeep the solar lights project and also replaces faulty ones.

Women’s organisations thanked the Ministry of Energy for the solar lights but requested for them to be installed at the various homes in rural communities. They said the lights will help their children to study at night and that it would also help scare away thieves at night.

 Both the Office of National Security and the Sierra Leone police told the participants that the solar street lights have helped improved the security situation in rural areas.

Civil society groups called on the Ministry of Energy to continue monitoring the project and help in the area of training solar lights technicians.

In his keynote address to the council authorities before signing the memorandum of understanding, the Ministry’s Director of Energy, Engineer Benjamin Kamara, said his Ministry has a mandate to provide affordable and sustainable electricity supply for people across the country.

In the area of security, he said electricity was everybody’s business and that all citizens should ensure that they were protected from thieves at all times.

“The Ministry cannot hand over faulty solar lights to Local councils. We are going to repair all faulty solar lights. We will collaborate with the Barefoot Women’s Solar College to train solar technicians across the country but the councils should be ready to absorb and encourage them when they shall have been trained,” he said.

He said the local council authorities have not provided security for the solar street lights ,hence many of them have been vandalised and stolen and that that the Ministry could not guarantee their replacement.

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